Ex-city police officer gets 5-year prison term for assault

A former Baltimore police officer was sentenced to five years in federal prison Wednesday for assaulting a 17-year-old and falsifying documents to cover up the attack, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

In May, a jury convicted Gregory Mussmacher, 35, of violating the young man's civil rights and obstructing justice by creating phony police reports.

"The power that accompanies a police officer's badge does not give the officer the right to violate the civil rights of those in his or her custody," Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ's Civil rights Division, said in a statement. "The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute any officer who abuses their power and violates the public trust in this way."

According to court records, the teenager had been fighting with his sister in April 2004, when police arrived. Mussmacher challenged the teen to a fight, sprayed him with pepper spray and hit him in the face with a baton before taking the boy to the Northwest District Station, where Mussmacher whacked him with a pool stick, records claim.

Mussmacher was federally indicted last year, along with two retired officers, Guy Gerstel and Wayne Thompson, who both testified against Mussmacher during his trial.

Gerstel pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and will be sentenced Nov. 18. Thompson pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and received a six-month home-detention sentence in September.

In 2005, Mussmacher was found guilty by a Baltimore Circuit Court judge of misdemeanor assault and misconduct in office for striking the teen, but the conviction was overturned on appeal, leading the Justice Department to take on the case, officials said.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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