City Council Weighs in on Police Involved Incident | WYPR

City Council Weighs in on Police Involved Incident

Aug 14, 2018

Credit Dominique Maria Bonessi

Earlier in the day, Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said he was “disappointed” and “disturbed” by the video of Officer Arthur Williams striking civilian Dashawn McGrier in the head. Then Mayor Catherine Pugh tweeted she was demanding “answers and accountability.”

Monday night, City Council president Jack Young said the incident “causes great concern with the community when we’re trying to rebuild police-community relations.”

“It’s like the officer just lost it,” he said in the monthly meeting of the council’s Public Safety and Budget committees with the police department. “But this is the type of behavior that we can’t have.”

He said Williams’ behavior was beyond the scope of his duties to protect and serve the community.

Councilman Leon Pinkett added that the department needs to improve the training to make sure officers act in accordance with the law at all times.

Brandon Scott, chair of the public safety committee, and Eric Costello, chair of the budget committee emphasized need for structural change in the department.

"This is another clear example of why—in my opinion—we need structural changes in the BPD, including implementing the recommendations of the citizen’s oversight task force,” said Scott. “And adhering to the requests that this city council has made multiple times for local control.”

Although its budget is mostly under city control, Baltimore’s police department has been a state agency since 1860.

Scott and Costello both argued that if the mayor and city council had more control over the department, they could create the structural changes necessary to control police academy training and departmental spending, which is under question and audit for their overtime spending.

Interim Commissioner Tuggle was not at the meeting Monday. He was meeting with Judge James Bredar, the federal judge assigned to oversee the department’s consent decree. In an afternoon press briefing yesterday Tuggle called the incident “disappointing and disturbing.”

Tuggle said while police academy training was in line with the consent decree, the incident is “another deficiency in our training that we can actually learn from.”

“We also have to refine our training in order to avoid this,” said Tuggle. “Now are we going to be able to avoid it in every single circumstance? Absolutely not. We need to do a better job—not just on the training piece—but the philosophical tone that I have to set as a leader of the organization.”

Video below may be disturbing for some viewers.  Courtesy ABC News

Tuggle said while police academy training was in line with the consent decree, the incident is “another deficiency in our training that we can actually learn from.”

“We also have to refine our training in order to avoid this,” said Tuggle. “Now are we going to be able to avoid it in every single circumstance? Absolutely not. We need to do a better job—not just on the training piece—but the philosophical tone that I have to set as a leader of the organization.”

Warren Brown, Dashawn McGrier’s lawyer, applauded Tuggle at an afternoon news conference Monday for speaking about problems in police training.

“Well I think he hit the nail on the head,” said Brown. “This is exhibit one of evidence of a problem.”Brown said he would like the city to pay restitution for McGrier’s hospital bills and injuries: a fractured jaw, broken nose, and broken ribs.

Williams, who graduated from the academy a year ago, was suspended with pay after the incident and resigned Monday. A second officer who was involved has been placed on administrative duties.

Brown said Williams and McGrier have a history that goes back to May. In June, Williams charged McGrier with second degree assault, disorderly conduct and hindering arrest.

In a statement of probable cause Williams reported that McGrier threatened to kill Williams. That case is scheduled for trial in Baltimore District Court next week.