City police and union officials moved quickly on Tuesday to address a video of Baltimore police officers involved in violent arrest outside an East Baltimore nightclub.
Authorities said they believed the officers' use of force — which included batons and Tasers — was justified. But the incident early Tuesday was the second time in nearly a week that police officials had to respond to video footage of an arrest.
"I want officers never to use force that's not necessary," Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said. "But I also don't condone [residents] punching officers."
Last week, Baltimore police officials suspended an officer shown on camera repeatedly punching a man at a North Avenue bus stop in an incident that has prompted a $5 million lawsuit against the department.
In the case of Tuesday's arrest of 29-year-old Jamar Kennedy, a bystander captured the arrest in the 3100 block of Greenmount Avenue on video using a cellphone. Kennedy was being held without bail on charges of second-degree assault and resisting arrest, court records show.
Police are still investigating and asked people to come forward if additional videos exist. All five officers are on paid administrative leave during the inquiry.
Batts showed the video to reporters after a television station obtained a copy and questioned police about the incident. Police said they would release the video on Wednesday — a delay attributed to technical difficulties.
A call to a relative of Kennedy was not returned Tuesday.
Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said police were on foot outside Melba's Place, a nightclub, before 2 a.m. when they saw Kennedy fighting with a bouncer. Col. Garnell Green said an officer tried to use a Taser on Kennedy but it had no effect. The video shows the Taser was knocked to the ground. Soon the video shows a female police officer on the ground in a struggle.
Other officers then move in swinging batons at Kennedy, who police say continued to resist arrest. At one point Kennedy raises his clenched fist above his head to try to shield himself from the blows while he walks toward officers. Police try and take him to the ground, and Kennedy ends up on top of one officer. Police stun Kennedy with a Taser once more, and officers are finally able to detain him, the video shows.
As police arrested Kennedy, officials say a female officer pulled out Kennedy's inhaler and gave it to him. They say that shows that not only did police stop the blows once the situation was under control but also that they "rendered aid."
Kennedy suffered minor injuries and was treated at a hospital, police said. Three officers also suffered minor injuries.
Batts said the incident "further adds to my resolve to bring body cameras to Baltimore."
Fraternal Order of Police President Robert F. Cherry said the officers followed all protocols and did nothing wrong.
When using their batons, the officers swung only at Kennedy's midsection and hamstrings and not his head or knees, Cherry said.
Last week, a video showing Baltimore police officer Vincent E. Cosom repeatedly punching a man became public after the man, Kollin Truss, filed a lawsuit. The incident happened in June, and Cosom remained on the job until the video was circulated in the news media. Cosom has since been suspended.