A Baltimore Police detective has been indicted on a misdemeanor charge of assault and misconduct for allegedly choking and slamming to the ground a teenager in East Baltimore who was recording an arrest with his cellphone.
A grand jury indicted Detective Charles Baugher on the two charges, the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
His defense attorney, Chaz Ball, declined to comment.
In the indictment, prosecutors wrote that police responded on June 6, 2019, to North Kresson Street in East Baltimore to arrest a man for drugs. A 17-year-old stood on the sidewalk nearby and recorded the officers with his cellphone. Then Sgt. Jason Hines directed Baugher to arrest the teen, Tyquwon Phillips, prosecutors wrote.
“Baugher made harmful, offensive and unwanted contact with Mr. Phillips, without legal justification, when he lunged at Mr. Phillips and used his hands to grab Mr. Phillips around his neck, then forcefully shoved Mr. Phillips against a wall,” prosecutors wrote. “Det. Baugher then, while choking Mr. Phillips who was not resisting, forcefully slammed Mr. Phillips to the ground.”
Court records show no charges against Phillips. Four months later, however, the teen was arrested on gun charges in the next block. He pleaded guilty to carrying a loaded handgun and was sentenced to three years with all but six months suspended.
An 11-year veteran of the force, Baugher is currently suspended with pay, a police spokeswoman said.
Baugher drew the scrutiny of defense attorneys three years ago when they obtained police body camera footage that they said appeared to show officers planting drugs. Police had searched a car, finding no drugs, then turned off their body cameras.
When Baugher turned his camera back on, he retrieved a small bag wedged under the steering column. The officers and their attorneys denied any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors reviewed the footage; the officers did not face criminal charges.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott issued a statement about the charges.
”Incidents like this one not only undermine our efforts to build trust between police officers and our community, they do not make our neighborhoods safer. Deciding to chokeslam a person because they are filming is unacceptable behavior for someone sworn to protect and serve. It is also a fundamental abuse of power.”
Scott said he has directed the police department to conduct an administrative investigation of the officer’s conduct.