Judge Dismisses First-Degree Assault Charge in Md. Officer Trial

Officers still face two less serious charges for UMD student beating

By Chris Gordon
|  Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012  |  Updated 8:57 PM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
(Courtroom sketches by William Hennessy.)

Chris Gordon, William Hennessy

(Courtroom sketches by William Hennessy.)

Photos and Videos

"Yippie Skippy" Testimony in UMD Beating Trial

Testimony about a University of Maryland Student skipping and singing a celebratory song before officers allegedly beat him came out Monday -- Day 1 of the trial of two officers accused in the assault, which was captured on cell phone video in March 2010. News4's Chris Gordon reports.
More Photos and Videos

Today Judge Beverly Woodard dismissed the most serious charge facing two Prince George's County police officers accused of beating a University of Maryland student during a 2010 post-game celebration.

When prosecutors rested their case against Officers Reginald Baker and James Harrison,  defense lawyers argued that there was no evidence that student John McKenna was hit in the head by the officer's baton strikes during what they call a riot in College Park.

McKenna was treated for a concussion and cuts after the incident but wasn't admitted to a hospital that night. Three days later he complained of dizziness.

The judge left the courtroom to check the law and ruled there's insufficient proof that the officers intended to inflict serious and permanent injuries, which are the legal requirements of the charge of assault in the first degree.

"I only see strikes from the neck down," Woodard said.

Baker and Harrison still face second-degree assault and police misconduct charges.

They were accused with beating McKenna with batons during the melee the night of March 3, 2010, and the early morning of March 4. The alleged beating was captured on video, which has become a key piece of evidence in the trial.

In court with his helmet, shield and baton, Baker answered his lawyer's questions about that night. "I'm afraid," he said, "but we have a mission."

He said he saw a large man, yelling and running at police horses with fists clenched. "It's a threat," Baker said. "I yell, 'Get down, get down.' I engage him with the shield, push him. I apply short strikes to [his] arm area."

Baker was later suspended from the police force.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
NBC4's Camp4Kids
NBC4 launched Camp4Kids in 1993, in... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out