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School police officer in video was fired as sheriff's deputy in 2003

Liz Bowie
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
School police officer who hit student has prior restraining order

The school police officer seen on video slapping and kicking a youth outside a Baltimore high school this week was fired by the city sheriff's department in 2003 and was ordered by a court to stay away from his girlfriend in 2011.

Baltimore school officials would not disclose the officer's name, but his lawyer and other sources confirmed he is Anthony C. Spence, 44, of Baltimore.

In the video, shot Tuesday afternoon at REACH Partnership School in Clifton Park, Spence is heard shouting while he slaps the youth across the face three times and then kicks him. A second police officer looks on. The 16-year-old boy is a student at REACH, according to an attorney representing him. City police have launched a criminal investigation in collaboration with school police and the Baltimore state's attorney's office.

Spence did not respond to phone calls Thursday. His attorney, Mike Davey, said his client believed the boy was trespassing on school grounds, and after questioning him an altercation ensued. He said he could not offer specifics because of the pending investigation.

Spence was one of two Baltimore sheriff's deputies who were fired in 2003 after a wrongful Taser attack that sparked outrage in the Hispanic community, according to reports in The Baltimore Sun at the time. The deputies mistook a Salvadoran construction worker for a bank robber and arrested him during lunchtime in Lexington Market. A third officer shot the construction worker twice with the Taser, injuring him. Spence said at the time he was fired unfairly.

In 2011, Spence's girlfriend, who also was a school police officer, got a protective order against him. According to her account in court records, Spence struck her in the face after an argument outside a Charles Street hair salon. The girlfriend said he tried to prevent her from driving away, and that she grabbed her police radio and called for assistance from school police officers.

She drove to school system headquarters on North Avenue, where, she said, Spence ran after her into the building. No charges were filed against Spence, and court records do not provide his version of the events. Davey declined to comment.

The girlfriend got a restraining order requiring Spence to move out of their house and to stay away from her. Nine days later, in late December 2011, she asked that the restraining order be removed.

The video at REACH, which was posted on Facebook, has sparked outrage from the community and calls for the Department of Justice to investigate. Marshall Goodwin, the chief of the school police, as well as Spence and the second officer in the video were put on administrative leave after it was posted.

The Baltimore City police have taken over the investigation of the incident, at the request of acting school police chief Akil Hamm.

Davey said the video was taken after Spence and another officer responded to a report of an illegally parked car in the REACH loading dock. He said the two cut through the school to get to the dock and, while inside, noticed two young men who were not wearing school uniforms. Though the youths said they were students at the school, Davey said, they didn't know the principal's name. The officers asked the youths to leave, and one did.

There was an altercation between Spence and the remaining youth, Davey said, but did not elaborate. Spence and the youth left the building, where further events were captured on video, Davey said.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund called Thursday for a thorough investigation and urged the Baltimore Schools CEO Gregory Thornton to join in requesting that the Department of Justice expand its civil rights investigation of Baltimore policing practices to the school police force.

Thornton did not respond to requests for comments.

Baltimore Sun reporters Erica L. Green and Kevin Rector contributed to this article.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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