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Former Baltimore Officer Charged With Assault After Viral Video

A short video posted on social media showed a police officer repeatedly punching a man on the street.
@otm_lorkodak/Screenshot by NPR
A short video posted on social media showed a police officer repeatedly punching a man on the street.

A former Baltimore City police officer has been indicted by a grand jury on criminal charges including first-degree assault after a video surfaced on social media that showed him repeatedly punching a man in the face.

The incident in the video happened on Saturday. Hours later, the Baltimore Police Department suspended the officer, now identified as Arthur Williams. Late Sunday, the department accepted his resignation.

State's Attorney Marilyn Mosbytold reporters Tuesday that a warrant has now been issued for his arrest.

"It is important that the community knows there is one standard of justice, no matter your sex, race, religion, or occupation," said Mosby. "Police officers are sworn to protect and serve and when that oath is taken for granted and an abuse of that power is evident, we will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law. This is an integral part to rebuilding trust in our criminal justice system."

In the video that went viral, the officer is exchanges sharp words with a man who has been identified as 26-year-old DaShawn McGrier. Then Williams suddenly starts striking him. He hits him more than a dozen times, often in the face.

The man doesn't appear to fight back. Williams pins him to the ground, and McGrier looks like he is bleeding.

McGrier's attorney, Warren Brown, told NPR that his client sustained multiple injuries: "Fractured jaw, two fractured ribs, he lost feeling in his left leg."

The grand jury has charged Williams with misconduct in office, one count of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault.

Mosby told reporters that for Williams to be found guilty of first-degree assault, prosecutors "must also prove that the defendant intended to cause serious physical injury in the commission of the assault."

Both the police department and McGrier's lawyer have said that the two men had a prior history. McGrier was charged in June with allegedly assaulting this officer, Brown said, and a trial is scheduled for later this month.

On Saturday McGrier was taken into custody and received medical treatment. He was released.

Mosby said that the officer is not yet in custody.

Williams was new to the force, according to the Baltimore Sun: "Williams had graduated from the Baltimore police training academy in April with awards for top performance. He had been with the department since last year."

There's a second officer looking on in the video. Mosby said the preliminary assessment is that there are "no criminal charges that are appropriate."

The incident happened at a time when the Baltimore Police Department is trying to mend fraught relations with the community, as NPR reported:

"After Freddie Gray died in 2015 following injuries he sustained in police custody, a Department of Justice report detailed years of abuses by the department. Last year, a consent decree was approved to overhaul the force."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.