A Baltimore police officer and a sergeant have been criminally charged in an incident in which the officer allegedly assaulted a teenager and threatened to choke and kill him during an arrest, prosecutors said.
A 17-year-old who was wanted in connection with a stolen vehicle was “slammed” to the ground by Officer Maxwell Dundore, who then wrapped his left arm around the teen and threatened to choke him to death as the officer tried to handcuff the teen, according to indictments charging Dundore and his supervisor Sgt. Brendan O’Leary. Both were indicted by grand jurors on Thursday.
“I swear to God, I’ll choke you out if you don’t stop,” Dundore said as other police officers who arrived at the scene attempted to secure the teen’s legs, according to prosecutors.
Dundore is charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office, and faces up to 10 years in prison.
O’Leary, who was responsible for completing a use of force report from the incident, was indicted on charges of making a false statement and misconduct in office, after prosecutors said there were discrepancies in the report.
“The report submitted by Sergeant O’Leary minimized the severity of Officer Dundore’s actions, materially distorted the nature of the incident to justify unlawful police conduct, and mislead investigators into concluding that the actions of Officer Dundore were within BPD policy,” prosecutors said.
Neither officer had an attorney listed in online court records.
Baltimore Police said in a statement Friday that the department’s Public Integrity Bureau opened an internal investigation into the April 2020 incident, and “immediately referred this incident to the State’s Attorney’s Office.”
Both officers have been suspended with pay and assigned to administrative work pending the outcome of the investigation, police said. Dundore earned $67,185 last year, and O’Leary earned $112,417, according to city salary records.
“These indictments demonstrate our commitment to ensuring one standard of justice for all — regardless of one’s race, sex, religion, or occupation,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement. “As administrators of the criminal justice system, we are committed to protecting public safety and the well-being of everyone in our community.”
The incident occurred around 9 a.m. on April 27, 2020, after Dundore, a uniformed officer, was called to the 2800 block of Mayfield Ave. in the Belair-Edison neighborhood to investigate a report of a stolen automobile. Dundore found a 17-year-old exiting the driver side of the reported stolen automobile, and the teen then allegedly attempted to flee on foot, prosecutors said.
After chasing the teen, prosecutors said the officer threw the teen face down onto concrete, and the officer attempted to restrain the teen under his neck.
As Dundore held the teen’s throat, prosecutors said the teen struggled for air.
“Officer Dundore then stated … ‘I will choke you. I will kill you,’ before releasing his hands,” according to prosecutors.
After other officers responded to the scene, and the teen had been handcuffed, prosecutors said Dundore then pushed the teen on the right side of his face. Dundore then stood up, stepped over the teen, “and ‘back-kicked’ him in the face,” prosecutors said.
When the teen complained that Dundore kicked him, prosecutors said Dundore told him to “shut up” and at one point called him a “stupid ass.”
While at the scene, the officer told another officer, “I did slam him,” prosecutors said.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement he was “disgusted” by the allegations, and is “committed to improving this culture and lack of humanity.”
Scott said he would continue to advocate in the Maryland General Assembly to change laws to allow local authorities “to immediately terminate officers for clearly egregious conduct.”
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said last year that the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights prohibited him from quickly firing officers accused of clear wrongdoing, which chiefs in other states have the authority to do. Shortly after the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in 2020, Harrison said he would not be permitted to fire officers involved as the Minneapolis chief was able to do.
The General Assembly passed sweeping police reforms this year, but none of the new measures would permit an officer to be terminated before a conviction for similar charges. Changes to the law allow chiefs to fire officers convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors but do not require agencies to complete administrative investigations.