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Officer acquitted in incident involving a 16-year-old pupil

Police officers in Maryland have the difficult job of determining when an individual is committing a crime, and then responding appropriately. Sometimes there are claims of police overreach in certain situations, particularly if the incident is captured on video. Recently, a 53-year-old Baltimore police officer was acquitted of charges for assault in the second degree, and misconduct in office, after an incident involving a student was captured on video.

In the incident, which took place at the REACH Partnership School in March 2016, the officer reportedly told another officer to strike a student, age 16. The officers thought the student and an acquaintance had trespassed on school grounds. Although the student and the acquaintance claimed the officer told a colleague to hit the student for mouthing off, both officers claimed that the 16-year-old spit on the officer's colleague and that the colleague's reaction to the spitting was spontaneous. The officer claimed she was startled by her colleague's actions.

The prosecution admitted that there were inconsistencies in the students' accounts of the incident. According to the pupil, he was enrolled at the school, but only showed up for class on eight days. He admitted that he was not wearing a school uniform at the time of the incident. His friend claimed that they were only there to retrieve his bookbag out of his locker and then leave. However, the student claimed he was planning to stay at school and that he did not have a locker. The 16-year-old stated that he did not spit on the officer's colleague.

According to the defense, however, the officers noticed the pupils were not dressed in school uniforms and were unable to identify any of the school's faculty members. Therefore, the defendants believed the pupils were trespassing. Also, the officer stated that the student had a knife, and she asked him to turn it over to her. According to her, the student then became upset. Moreover, the defense argued that the officer had nothing to do with her colleague's decision to strike the student.

Although the officer was found not guilty, she has reportedly been subject to severe consequences due to the incident. Unfortunately, when situations like this arise, they could affect a person's everyday life, including their job and reputation. Therefore, if a person is facing assault charges, he or she may want to seek the representation of a criminal defense attorney.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Jury acquits Baltimore school police officer in student assault caught on tape," Justin Fenton, Feb. 15, 2017

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