Baltimore Circuit Judge Lynn Stewart Mays had sharp words, but not for the criminal defendant in her courtroom.
Instead, she took to task off-duty Baltimore police officers for a drunken, rowdy bachelorette party that wound up in the early morning outside Norma Jean’s strip club on The Block downtown.
“We had sworn police officers, most, if not all of them, pretty drunk, stumbling, staggering, slurring, putting themselves in an environment when nothing positive could come,” Mays said. “Drinking, fighting, it’s terrible ... it’s clear this situation was seconds from totally erupting.”
The rowdy crowd poured out of the club that night in August 2018 to cause a confrontation with an on-duty officer. Mays handed down Thursday a suspended prison sentence and three years of probation to Sgt. Marlon Koushall for punching one of the off-duty women.
He was responding to a call for backup at the club when he confronted the off-duty Sgt. Henrietta Middleton. He was convicted last month of second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
He told the judge that Middleton had balled her fist ready to fight.
“I feel I acted in self-defense and without malice,” he said.
Koushall, 30, remains suspended with pay, a police spokesman said. An eight-year veteran of the force, he made $98,000 in fiscal year 2019, according to an online salary database.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to hand him six months in prison.
“Unfortunately, police officers can’t have a bad day,” the judge told Koushall. “We’re all held to a much higher standard. ... Had it been Joe Blow? No big deal.”
Prosecutors initially charged Middleton in the early morning brawl, but dropped the charges eight months later. Her attorney said Middleton was attacked.
Outside the courtroom, Middleton declined to comment.
Mays said the wild night further harmed the reputation of the Baltimore Police Department. Cellphone video of the scuffle in the streets circulated widely.
One on-duty officer left his post to come pick up his wife, Mays said. Others simply copied details instead of writing their own reports, the judge said. She did not name these officers.
“I sincerely hope they are being investigated,” Mays said. “All this was a total fiasco.”