A Baltimore police sergeant has been suspended after a video surfaced on social media that appeared to show him spitting on a handcuffed subject.
Sgt. Robert Messner, who has been with the department for 34 years, is the subject of a criminal investigation and an internal investigation, police said Tuesday. He is suspended with pay.
"The video appears to depict the police sergeant spitting on the arrestee," interim police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement. "That is outrageously unacceptable and it directly contradicts the necessary community relationships we are striving to rehabilitate."
The video, shot at night, shows a man who appears to be under arrest, handcuffed and prone on the ground. A man in a police uniform standing over him leans down and appears to spit on the man.
Bystanders in the video are heard shouting that the officer spit on the man.
The incident occurred on Old York Road on Monday night, police said.
The man in handcuffs was identified by police as Alfred Evan.
Evan, a 31-year-old Parkville man, was charged with second-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, second-degree assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, according to online court records. Evan, who had been held on $25,000 bail, was released on Wednesday, according to online court records. He was held in lieu of $25,000 bail. He could not be reached for comment, and no lawyer was listed for him in court records.
Activist Kwame Rose received videos of the incident and posted them on Twitter to his more than 7,000 followers.
Rose, whose legal name is Darius Kwame Rosebrough, said the video showed the officer "doing everything Kevin Davis said police shouldn't do."
Rose said the incident is another example of why there is a need for stronger police accountability.
"The officer needs to be fired," he said.
Davis said the department is asking for witnesses to come forward. He said police are searching for additional videos of the incident.
Last week, Davis answered questions about a video that showed a man punch a police trainee on Broadway.
"More and more police encounters are going to be captured on videotape," he said. "The Police Department welcomes that."
The department is scheduled to launch a body camera pilot program this month in the Central, Western and Eastern districts, with the technology expected to be in use citywide by early next year.