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FBI to Probe Into Alleged Police Brutality Incident

FBI to Probe Into Alleged Police Brutality Incident

Stock Photo

Washington Post via YellowBrix

April 14, 2010

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD – The FBI is investigating an incident last month in which three Prince George’s County police officers in riot gear used their batons to beat an unarmed University of Maryland student after a basketball game — an event captured on video and aired nationwide on Tuesday.

“Once the investigation is complete, the civil rights division will review the FBI’s findings and will determine whether there was a violation of federal civil rights laws,” said Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the Justice Department.

FBI Special Agent Rich Wolf, a spokesman for the bureau’s Baltimore field office, said agents will review the video and other evidence. The incident occurred March 3, as students took to the streets to celebrate Maryland’s victory over Duke.

The FBI probe is the third investigation by authorities into the beating and the criminal charges filed against John J. McKenna, 21, and Benjamin C. Donat, 19. Charging documents filed against the two students are contradicted by the video. Prosecutors have dropped assault charges against both.

The video shows McKenna skipping happily on a sidewalk when he stopped in front of a phalanx of officers on horseback. As he stood there, two Prince George’s officers ran and attacked him. A third officer later joined the beating.

The federal probe comes just over a year after the police department emerged from five years of federal oversight that had been implemented for such problems as use of excessive force.

Watch the Attack

On Monday, State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said he was launching a grand jury investigation of the conduct of the officers who beat McKenna and of Officer Sean McAleavey, who filed the charging documents.

Also Monday, Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said he was “outraged and disappointed” by the conduct of the officers as seen in the video and announced an internal affairs investigation. Hylton said he has suspended one officer but declined to identify him.

Ivey and Hylton announced their investigations after the video was released to local reporters on Monday by Christopher A. Griffiths, the attorney for McKenna and Donat. National news outlets aired the video Tuesday.

Because the officers who beat McKenna were in riot gear, they are not easily identifiable. At a news conference Tuesday, Hylton said internal affairs investigators were working to find out who they are. “There’s a sense of urgency about this,” Hylton said.

Hylton said internal affairs detectives are talking to various sources, including fellow police officers, to learn the identities. The chief said the investigators plan on interviewing McKenna and Donat.

More than two dozen high-ranking commanders stood behind Hylton outside police headquarters in Palmer Park. Hylton said the commanders joined him to send a message to the community that “unprofessional conduct” won’t be tolerated.

Hylton said he first learned of the beating when the video was released.

Asked whether officers who witnessed the incident had a duty to intervene or at least report the use of force, Hylton replied, “They had a duty to tell me there was force used, that’s correct.”

Based on the video, the chief said, McKenna did nothing wrong and nothing to warrant the beating or criminal charges. However, Hylton said “inappropriate conduct” by other students that night helped lead to the incident.

Hylton said some students threw snowballs and other items at officers, blocked streets and acted in an unruly manner.

The video shows McKenna skipping on Knox Road until he sees mounted officers from the Maryland-National Capital Park Police. The video shows McKenna backing up. As McKenna steps back, two county police officers in riot gear rush him, slam him against a wall and strike him with their batons.

As McKenna crumples to the ground, a third county police officer rushes in and strikes McKenna with his baton, the video shows. Donat is not shown in the video.

The charging documents alleged that McKenna and Donat together assaulted the mounted officers and their horses. The charging documents said injuries suffered by McKenna — who needed eight staples to close his head wound — and Donat were caused by horses and not by police.

A spokesman for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police said no officers from that agency were assaulted by McKenna or Donat. The spokesman said no horses injured McKenna or Donat.


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  • White_shirt_max50

    uncledennis1

    over 4 years ago

    23288 Comments

    Does not look good for the brothers.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Oops! Made an error:
    **also BE taught

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    BoofordT, haven't you heard of "fist pumps"? Especially in the case of an excited sports fan - they're pretty common. Other than that, yes, you should be taught to observe the actions of others... but shouldn't you also taught to suppress your adrenaline rush? I would hope so, because as far as I can see, those officers beat a cheering fan because they only *ass*umed he was going to be a hassle. If all cops acted in such a way, they wouldn't be cops. They'd be gang members.

  • Th_detective_max50

    Retleo

    over 4 years ago

    5524 Comments

    I like the "Stock Photo" used for the story, guess they couldn't find a picture of jack-booted SS men beating an elderly woman with Alzheimers and terminal cancer as she walked up the steps of the local Cathedral on her way to confession...............As we learned a long time ago from the Rodney King video ( a very small part of the whole video was shown repeatedly on tv) there is often more to a story than the parts that the media decides to show. Let the FBI do their investigation, I give far more credence to their findings than to the speculation and misinformation spread by the media!

  • Police_link_badge_max50

    HEYSARGE

    over 4 years ago

    16726 Comments

    Didn't like what I saw on the tape....but let it all play out!

  • Buford_t_justice_2_max50

    BoofordT

    over 4 years ago

    10 Comments

    I'd love to know what was said on the scene. The news media keeps hounding on the fact that this guy was 'skipping' or 'dancing' down the sidewalk. "Skipping' or 'dancing' during a riot??? Look at the video again. He wasn't 'skipping.' He was taking a defensive stance, swinging his arms in a punching motion as if he was prepared to fight. I'm sure most of us are taught to pay attention to verbal cues and body language. While I'm not happy with what the video is showing, I refuse to pass judgment until all of the facts are in.

  • Img00039_max50

    bfriskey

    over 4 years ago

    980 Comments

    WOW !! A must have investigation...Hope more videos surface,., or maybe not

  • Evgeni_nabokov_max50

    skascooter007

    over 4 years ago

    2010 Comments

    Tough situation, I hope justice will prevail.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    Tomas

    over 4 years ago

    140 Comments

    The three officers directly involved allegedly identified...

    http://www.news8.net/news/stories/0410/725676.html

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    over 4 years ago

    19382 Comments

    It certainly does appear that other unruly students were baiting the police. From group behavior a incident may have been created which may have brought on a tense situation. Certainly holes to be filled in in this investigation. Public perception is certainly not positive in his case. Always time to learn and improve when the whole story is revealed.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    Tomas

    over 4 years ago

    140 Comments

    There is audio recorded by a close-by iPhone. Video from the iPhone is very poor, but the audio is very good. CNN was promised a raw copy of that recording from the lawyer about 30 minutes ago.

    I'm usually quite pro-police, but these look more like armed thugs, and their sworn story and charges contradict the statements from the mounted force.

    Sorry, guys, but this doesn't look good, and adds SO much to the "police hate" we see across the country. Sad.

  • Car6_max50

    Ahi

    over 4 years ago

    1990 Comments

    From what we see, I would say the officers over stepped their boundaries and their behavior was unacceptable. However all we see is the beating, nothing else. I am not convinced this is the whole story.

  • Me_max50

    eli4se

    over 4 years ago

    100 Comments

    Typical that the media always shows the "Bad" parts. Need to see what actually led to the beating. The media needs to get the full story first then air it!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Mtarte

    over 4 years ago

    112 Comments

    I am more disturbed by some comments here than by the incident itself. What no one has mentioned is the part of the story that a report was filed stating that these two assaulted the horses, yet no where is that mentioned and it goes on to state that a horse caused one of the injuries, yet you do not see that in the video. If these officers lied on a report, they then compounded the original problem by trying to cover it up. I hope that there is other video or witnesses that will exonerate these officers, but who is to be exonerated since their ID's have not yet been established? Sorry, this stinks to high heaven and a few officers have now effectively given support to every anti-police group out there. If found, they should not only be fired, but prosecuted for assault under color of authority.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Sisu0917

    over 4 years ago

    10 Comments

    Sounds to me like they'll just skip an investigation and trial and move right on to sentencing them. As we all know pictures look bad but it's what lead up to this particular moment that may prove important. However, from the sounds of it somebody is about to be sacrifice on the alter of public opinion. During any given shift there but by the grace of god go every one of us. Stay safe.

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