Baltimore City Council leaders blast police officer seen punching man as 'coward'

Baltimore City Council leaders on Monday condemned the actions of a Baltimore police officer who was caught on video punching and beating a man on Saturday in East Baltimore.

At its monthly police oversight hearing, City Councilman Brandon Scott, chairman of the public safety committee, called the incident involving the officer — who has since resigned amid an investigation — a “cowardly assault on a citizen in the city of Baltimore.”

“It’s a clear example why we need structural change in the BPD,” he said.

The police department has not released the name of the officer, but an attorney for the victim of the alleged assault has identified the officer as Arthur Williams.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the officer brought dishonor on the city.

“It really causes great concern for this council. It causes great concern for the community. This is the type of behavior we can’t have,” Young said. “Officers are supposed to have thick skin, like we do as council members.”

Young praised acting Commissioner Gary Tuggle’s handling of the situation and said he empathizes with the tough job police have to do.

“I know it’s tough. I feel for the officers,” Young said. “But you took an oath to protect and serve and the citizens are telling us it’s not protect and serve.”

Leaders on the Baltimore City Council have begun holding monthly accountability meetings regarding the police department, focusing on both the agency’s budget and its crime-fighting strategies.

Police officials reported Monday they had spent $3 million on overtime in July — about double what was budgeted. Police officials testified they were already on pace to run up $43 million in overtime expenses this fiscal year, even though $20 million is budgeted.

For years, the Baltimore Police Department has exceeded its budget for overtime by tens of millions of dollars, prompting frustration from council members. Police say the high overtime costs are due to patrol staffing shortages and high crime rates.

But it was the attack on Dashawn McGrier, 26, that dominated the early portion of the hearing.

Video clips circulated online this weekend showing the officer throwing punches at McGrier. McGrier suffered a fractured jaw and ribs, swelling around his eye socket and ringing in his ears.

Tuggle said prosecutors are considering filing second-degree assault charges against the officer involved. Tuggle said he could not comment further because the matter remains under active criminal investigation.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby’s office has declined to comment since the incident occurred Saturday morning.

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