Criminal probe under way on claim that officer spat on man

AP News
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Posted: Oct 13, 2015 6:49 PM

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore police veteran's police powers were suspended Tuesday and criminal and internal investigations are underway after a video may have shown the officer spitting on a man he arrested.

The police powers of Sgt. Robert Mesner, a 34-year-veteran, were suspended after a video surfaced of an arrest Monday night in northeast Baltimore in which an onlooker says the officer spit on the man.

Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said earlier Tuesday that the video shows the officer's body and head move forward in a way that indicates he may have spit on the man under arrest, handcuffed and on the ground. The man was charged with disorderly conduct.

Davis said in a statement, "The video appears to depict the police sergeant spitting on the arrestee. That is outrageously unacceptable and it directly contradicts the necessary community relationships we are striving to rehabilitate."

Davis said police want to talk with anyone who was present and investigators would like to see any additional video. Davis said he doesn't know what led to the encounter.

Baltimore police will begin wearing body cameras later this month.

Tensions between officers and citizens have escalated since the April death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a spinal injury in custody. His death prompted protests and rioting, leading to a curfew and the governor sent the National Guard to the city. Six police officers — three black, three white — are charged in Gray's arrest and death.