A veteran Baltimore police sergeant received probation Friday after being convicted for failing to act during an assault on a drug suspect.
Sgt. Marinos N. Gialamas said that it was "a split-second decision" that had ended with him standing before a circuit court judge.
"This is the last place I ever thought I'd be," the 19-year veteran said before he choked up and was unable to continue.
Anthony Williams, another officer who was convicted of assault in the case, received a jail term this week. But Judge M. Brooke Murdock said in imposing Gialamas' sentence that she recognized that his role in the incident was different.
The judge said she would consider striking the conviction after Gialamas completes 250 hours of community service.
The case — which included allegations by a detective, a key witness, that a dead rat was left on his car — stemmed from a 2011 incident involving drug suspect Antoine Green. He broke into a home as he was fleeing Gialamas and his squad, not knowing that the girlfriend of a city police officer lived there. She called Williams to the scene, which is when things began to spiral out of control, prosecutors said.
Green said he was taken back to the house and beaten after his arrest. Drug, burglary and assault charges against Green were later dropped.
A jury convicted Gialamas of a type of misconduct known as nonfeasance. Despite the verdict, Gialamas' attorney, Catherine Flynn, said facts were still in dispute about exactly what happened to Green and what it was that her client had failed to do.
At his sentencing Wednesday, Williams was defiant, contending that he'd done nothing wrong. But Flynn said that if Gialamas could turn the clock back, he would have made different decisions.
"This played out that evening in a way that was unpredictable," she said.
Robert F. Cherry, Jr., president of the police union, testified on Gialamas' behalf, saying he had never been suspected of corruption or other integrity issues.
"He's always struck me as a sergeant who made good choices on the street," Cherry said. "This gentleman here is not a threat."
The jury also convicted Williams of obstructing the internal affairs investigation into the attack on Green, and Cherry said the verdict might have reflected a distrust of the department's ability to police itself.
Prosecutor Kevin Wiggins said that while most police do a good job, misconduct cases cause "a disconnect with the community."
Gialamas has been suspended with pay, Flynn said after the hearing. She told the judge that an administrative investigation has begun to determine departmental punishment.
"We're going to fight very hard to keep his job," she said.
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