Maryland’s second-highest court has upheld the decision of the Baltimore Police Department to fire an officer accused of excessive force.
Serge Antonin, 44, entered an Alford plea in 2015 to one count of misconduct in office. The plea allows a defendant to maintain their innocence while acknowledging the state has enough evidence for a conviction.
The incident occurred July 2013, when a television news helicopter's camera picked up on a green Honda Accord fleeing from officers with the Regional Auto Theft Task Force. The car lost control and slammed into a vehicle in a used car lot in the 1900 block of Belair Road.
Officers converged on the car and pulled the suspect out of the passenger door. While the boy was on the ground surrounded by several officers, the TV camera captured the officer striking the teen. Police initiated an investigation, and charges of second-degree assault and two counts of misconduct in office were brought a year later.
Prosecutors sought a suspended jail sentence and 18 months of probation, but Antonin accepted Chief Judge Alfred Nance's offer of one year of unsupervised probation.
A police hearing board found him guilty of misconduct and using excessive force by slapping the youth while he was detained. Antonin was fired in November 2016.
He appealed to Baltimore Circuit Court, arguing the department violated his rights because it denied his request to have his case heard by civilians. The Circuit Court found a hearing board composed of officers was not neutral and the department failed to follow policy.
The department appealed, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the firing with a decision May 8. The appeals court found the department did not abuse its discretion by denying Antonin’s request for civilian review.