An apology was at the center of testimony Tuesday in the trial of two Prince George’s County police officers accused of beating an unarmed University of Maryland during the melee following the men’s basketball team’s defeat of Duke in March 2010.
Officers Reginald Baker and James Harrison are charged with first- and second-degree assault and police misconduct in the beating of John J. McKenna, who suffered a concussion. The beating was caught on cell phone video.
Harrison denied to Internal Affairs that he was one of two police officers seen in the video hitting McKenna with a baton. He told an investigator he didn't recognize anyone in the video.
Prosecutors called Lt. Dexter McKinney, who testified that he's a friend of Baker and was called into Internal Affairs because he also was on the scene that night. McKinney said Baker called him the next day to apologize, saying he was sorry it happened and that he was not proud of it.
But Baker’s defense lawyer, William Brennan suggested Baker was apologizing for causing fellow officers to be called into Internal Affairs for questioning.
The defense contends the use of force was justified. One officer who was there testified that the celebration was a riot and that police were charged several with people throwing bottles and cursing at officers, causing concern for their safety.
An expert for the prosecution who trains police said he counted a minimum of 12 baton blows by two police officers and said that the blows should have stopped after the student went to the ground.