Baltimore County police body camera footage of the interaction between, Vance Benton and a Baltimore County officer.
Baltimore County police released a video Wednesday afternoon of a confrontation between a white officer and an African-American city school principal who filed a complaint saying he was treated with disdain because of his race.
The Baltimore County Police Department said last week that it has concluded the investigation into the incident and is taking administrative action against the officer. The department did not describe the action it is taking.
Vance Benton, who has been principal of Patterson High School for the past eight years, said he was with his 15-year-old son when he walked up to the scene of police arresting a young man in Owings Mills. The arrest was taking place on July 29 on the street where he lives.
The officer approaches Benton and asks him if he is involved in the situation. Benton asks him why he would think he was involved.
“You are hindering my investigation,” the officer says to Benton. A few seconds later the officer says it is because of people like Benton “that people get away with crimes.” As the confrontation escalates the officer asks, “Can you even read?” and proceeded to spell his last name — Price — in an exaggerated way. The police department has not released the officer’s first name.
The officer, apparently talking to Benton’s son, Taj, said, “Hopefully you find a good role model. I wouldn’t listen to this dude."
Although it can’t be heard on the video, Benton said his son told the officer that he listens to his father’s advice. On the video the officer responded, “I will be seeing you again then.”
Benton then tells his son that the officer is “acting an ass," then added that “he may not be an ass.”
At the end of the three-minute exchange captured on the officer’s body camera, Benton said he was going to walk home. The officer says, “You have a good night then,” before saying “You need to keep walking. You are going to get locked up."
Benton filed a complaint in early August with county officials, including Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and the county’s new police chief, Melissa R. Hyatt, telling them that he had never experienced such “degradation, disrespect and humiliation.”
The police department at first said it would only release a redacted copy of the body camera footage that did not include the officer’s voice, but then reconsidered and released the camera footage with all of the audio and Benton’s face blocked out. The ACLU and county Councilman Julian Jones, whose district includes Owings Mills, had said the video should be made public.
Benton said he wanted the video made public as well because he believed it supports his complaint that the officer was treating him in a condescending and demeaning way.