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Baltimore police officer gets probation for hitting man in face during traffic stop

Baltimore Police Officer Donald Gaff received a suspended sentence of one year and probation for one year after hitting a man in the face during a traffic stop in 2016, prosecutors said.

Gaff, who remains employed by the police department, was found guilty of second-degree assault and misconduct in office during trial last week in Baltimore Circuit Court.

His victim asked Circuit Judge Marcus Shar not to send Gaff to prison, prosecutors said. Officials did not name the victim in a news release about the case.

“This victim not only bravely came forward against a police officer, but he also displayed an overwhelming amount of human dignity by forgiving this defendant,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in the release.

Internal police investigators were conducting a routine review of body camera footage when they discovered the assault. Gaff made the traffic stop two years ago in South Baltimore.

He ordered the male passenger out of the vehicle, then pushed and hit the man when he failed to produce his identification, prosecutors said. They said Gaff wrote in a report that the passenger was resisting arrest, but the body camera footage showed otherwise.

A police spokesman said Monday that Gaff was hired in 2013, and he remains an active member of the department.

In January 2015, Gaff fatally shot a man who was wielding a knife at a child's birthday party. Police said a man was carrying a knife at the party and threatening to stab people. After being asked to drop the knife, police said, Gaff shot him once in the upper chest, killing him.

tprudente@baltsun.com

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