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Baltimore Crime Beat

Baltimore police commissioner punched, held man at gunpoint

As his security detail struggled with an armed man this month, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts held a gun to the suspect's head and punched him in the face before gaining control of the man's weapon, court documents show.

Batts and his three-member security detail arrested Alante Moultrie, 20, on May 16 in the 2300 block of E. Monument St., shortly after they left the scene of a police-involved shooting. Moultrie is being held without bond on drug and gun charges.

According to charging documents, Batts' driver pulled over for an unspecified reason and members of the detail — dressed in suits — approached six men standing in front of a deli. Moultrie was standing just inside the open door of a GMC van when Detective Ryan Diener identified himself as a police officer.

Diener asked Moultrie his name, then saw what he believed to be a gun, Diener wrote in charging documents.

Diener patted him down and felt a weapon, and yelled "Gun!" to alert the other officers. Diener gripped the gun and said Moultrie pushed him and tried to flee.

Two other members of the detail, Detective Antonio Hopson and Detective Sgt. Derek Loeffler ran to help Diener, police wrote in charging documents. Diener said Moultrie was able to pull the gun during the struggle.

That's when Batts entered the fray.

"Police Commissioner Batts responded and removed his service weapon and placed it against Mr. Moultrie's head," Diener wrote. "Mr. Moultrie would not release the gun from his grip, so Police Commissioner Batts also attempted to pull the gun from Mr. Moultrie's hand. Police Commissioner Batts then hit Mr. Moultrie with a closed fist in the face."

The blow from the city's top cop finally caused Moultrie to release the gun, Diener wrote, and Batts pulled the gun away. Police said Moultrie also had four plastic bags of suspected cocaine and a folding knife.

The .32-caliber handgun was loaded with one round in the chamber and six in the magazine, police wrote in charging documents. Crime lab technicians took photos of Batts and his security detail.

Police said Moultrie required hospitalization and was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, but the documents do not detail his injuries.

After his release from the hospital, police said, Moultrie gave a taped interview with investigators and acknowledged possessing the handgun. Police tweeted that Batts had made an arrest, using the hashtag #Leadingfromthefront. Later, they posted a photo of him helping a woman carry groceries.

Batts has personally been involved in other enforcement efforts, tagging along on raids, searching for an alleged killer dubbed "Public Enemy No. 1," and performing a stop-and-frisk of someone he has identified as a gang member in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood. The agency has declined to release documents related to that incident.

Moultrie's aunt, Michelle Davis, said he did not seem to be aware that Batts was involved.

His mother, Lisa Moultrie, said her son's friends told her that he had been beaten up by the police.

"If the gun was in his waist, take the gun. ... Three men couldn't take a gun from his waist — he had to get hit like that?" she said. Of the allegation that her son was armed, she said: "It's surprising to me that my son even had a gun."

Moultrie was convicted in October 2013 of drug distribution charges and received a sentence of 20 years. All but two days of the sentence was suspended. The new arrest has triggered a violation of his probation.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun