A Baltimore police officer who repeatedly punched a man over the weekend in an altercation caught on video was charged with assault and turned himself in Tuesday.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced Tuesday that a grand jury indicted Arthur Williams on charges of first- and second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Mosby said the first-degree assault charge “fits this alleged crime” and requires proof that Williams “intended to cause serious physical injury in the commission of the assault.”
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said Tuesday night that Williams had turned himself in and had been taken to Central Booking for processing.
Williams, who resigned from the force over the weekend, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. It’s unclear whether he has hired an attorney.
Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the union representing rank-and-file officers, did not respond to requests for comment after the indictment.
A widely circulated video showed Williams repeatedly striking 26-year-old Dashawn McGrier with his fists and knee and taking him to the ground in front of an East Baltimore rowhouse on Saturday. McGrier does not fight back in the recording and is bleeding on the ground when Williams is on top of him.
McGrier, a warehouse worker at Dietz & Watson, suffered a fractured jaw and ribs, swelling around his eye and ringing in his ears, according to his lawyer, Warren Brown, who is seeking restitution payments from the city for his client.
Brown said Tuesday that the indictment was unsurprising and appropriate.
“I applaud Marilyn Mosby for doing the right thing,” he said.
Mosby said no charges had been filed against a second officer at the scene who briefly grabs McGrier’s arm in the video before backing away from the beating.
“Our preliminary assessment of the available evidence has been that, in light of his responsibilities at the scene, there are no criminal charges that are appropriate,” Mosby said of the second officer, who has not been identified.
Sandra Almond Cooper, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, told The Sun she was glad the first officer had been charged, but said the second officer “should’ve done something.”
“He should’ve stopped him before it was so bad,” said Almond Cooper, who has called for the second officer to be fired and criminally charged. He has been placed on administrative duties.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said she was glad Mosby had taken “this important first step” toward accountability.
“Baltimore residents need reassurance that the law applies to everyone — including police officers who violate their oath of office and the community’s trust in this way,” Ifill said.
Mosby said prosecutors reviewed and presented the grand jury with “a great deal more evidence” than just the viral video. Interim police Commissioner Gary Tuggle had said he reviewed two separate police body-camera videos, which he described as “relatively consistent” with the public video.
Mosby declined to give her personal opinion on the video or case, but she said that “it’s one we take seriously, which is why we presented these charges in front of a grand jury, and ultimately those charges were returned.”
She added: “The evidence in this case was both apparent and available.”
Mayor Catherine Pugh said the announcement was expected.
“I think the state’s attorney is doing what the state’s attorney does,” she said.
Tuggle this week called the beating “disturbing.”
He said the officers encountered McGrier shortly after 11:45 a.m. on Saturday near the 2500 block of East Monument Street on the edge of the Milton-Montford and Madison-Eastend neighborhoods.
The officers stopped McGrier, let him go, and then approached him to give him a citizens contact sheet, Tuggle said in a statement.
“When he was asked for his identification, the situation escalated when he refused,” Tuggle said.
After Williams struck McGrier and took him to the ground, McGrier was taken into custody, Tuggle said. He was given medical treatment and released without charges.
Saturday was not the first altercation between Williams and McGrier.
Brown said their feud began months ago when McGrier encouraged children who he said were harassed by Williams to alert their parents to the officer’s behavior.
Then, in June, Williams tried to cite a woman for smoking marijuana when McGrier grabbed her hand-rolled cigar and tried to run away, Williams wrote in charging documents.
Williams wrote that McGrier “took a fighting stance” and the men ended up tussling on the ground. Williams said McGrier tried to hit him and incite the crowd to attack him.
“Mr. McGrier stated several times that he would kill this officer once he was released from prison,” Williams wrote.
Brown said Williams’ account of the incident was “totally inaccurate” and said he expected McGrier to be cleared of the June charges, which include assaulting an officer and resisting arrest.
Mosby declined to describe what evidence her office had presented to the grand jury, but said Williams’ previous behavior “will be relevant at trial.”
Tuggle has said no complaints were filed following the June altercation, but that the department is reviewing the incident.
The commissioner said officers are trained not to allow their emotions to affect their actions, and that the officer should not have allowed the June incident to influence his encounter with McGrier on Saturday.
“If it were borne out of emotion, we are trained — we should be trained — to never act in an emotional way, particularly when it comes to engaging with citizens,” Tuggle said.
Williams had been with the department since May 2017 and had graduated from the Baltimore police training academy in April with awards for top performance.
The police union often defends officers accused of crimes as it did for the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, all of whom were acquitted or had their cases dropped.
After Saturday’s incident, Ryan said, “I’d like to believe that there is more to it, but obviously, it really makes us look bad.”