A Baltimore police officer is making headlines after footage of him spitting in a handcuffed, black man’s face surfaced online. According to Newsweek, Robert Mesner of the Baltimore Police Department has been suspended by interim Police Chief Kevin Davis after being identified on the cell phone video.
The 34-year veteran reportedly got involved in an altercation with 31-year-old Alfred Evan. The incident, which reportedly began as a verbal confrontation, quickly evolved into a physical confrontation with Evan being thrown face down on the ground.
During a recent news interview with WBAL-TV, Chief Davis shared details about the incriminating video that led to Mesner’s suspension. He explained that while Mesner wasn’t exactly seen spitting due to the haziness of the video, there was one particular head movement that led investigators to believe that he did, indeed, spit on Evan.
“His body and his head move forward in a manner that suggests he may have actually spit on the handcuffed arrested person,” Davis said. “That is outrageously unacceptable, and it directly contradicts the necessary community relationships we are striving to rehabilitate. The police powers of Sgt. Robert Mesner are now suspended, and a criminal investigation is underway. Our entire community deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“Our internal investigation progressed rapidly (Tuesday) with the review of available video and interaction with witnesses,” Davis said. “The video appears to depict the police sergeant spitting on the arrestee.”
According to Raw Story, the incident began when Mesner approached a group of people talking on a porch in front of a home. He reportedly broke up the group of people but things got worse after Evan attempted to leave.
In the video, Mesner can be seen following Evan and his friends, who can be heard accusing Mesner of provocation, according to a number of reports. Then, Mesner grabs Evan and forcefully slams him to the ground face down. As Mesner handcuffs Evan, he turns him on his side and appears to spit in his face. As expected, the crowd responds hysterically as another officer attempts to keep the group of people away.
“You spit on him. He just spit on him!”
Although the hazy video has caused most viewers to rely heavily upon the audio, another video has also been uploaded, showing a much clearer version of the altercation. That video has gone viral on Twitter.
Police records indicate that Evan has been charged with second-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, second-degree assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. But, based on the footage that has been released, authorities are questioning the validity of the claims and charges that have been brought against the alleged suspect.
In addition to Chief Davis’ statement detailing the series of events that led to Mesner’s suspension, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has also released a statement. By now, everyone is quite familiar with Mayor Rawlings-Blake‘s sentiments of the Baltimore Police Department due to all of the confusion surrounding the Freddie Gray case.
Needless to say, she definitely isn’t pleased with the department being in hot water over yet another seemingly wrongful arrest of a local citizen.
“I think it’s disgusting,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “Sometimes you hear things and (think) this can’t be true that someone on the job that long would do something that nasty. There are very few things you can do to another human being that are that disgusting.”
The Baltimore Police Department has confirmed that the footage and information shared via social media is authentic. However, no further updates will be announced until Wednesday, Oct. 21.
[Image via YouTube Screen Capture]