WASHINGTON — Two Prince George’s County police officers are facing charges for two separate incidents that the state’s attorney says “[betray] the public’s trust.”
Officer William Diaz and County Police Corporal George Merkel have both been indicted, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks announced Thursday.
Diaz was assigned to a task force that primarily handled prostitution and other offenses and on multiple occasions, he would warn a prostitute where it was conducting operations, allowing her to avoid arrest, the state’s attorney said in a news release. Also, investigators found that at least two times, Diaz solicited a prostitute for sex while he was on duty.
Diaz was indicted on a charge of misconduct in office, obstructing and hindering a police investigation.
Merkel was indicted on charges that he assaulted a homeless woman in Lanham, Maryland, on Sept. 22, 2016.
Merkel was on a routine patrol when he saw a homeless woman, reported it to dispatch and approached her on foot. Two other responding officers reported they saw Merkel yelling and shouting expletives at the woman, lift her to her feet by her ears and hit her on the head with an open hand, the state’s attorney said in a news release.
Both of the cases were brought to the State’s Attorney’s Office by county police to determine if criminal charges were warranted.
“While these instances are troubling to all of us, I must reiterate that the vast majority of our officers carry out their duties with the highest level of integrity and professionalism,” Alsobrooks said in a news release.
Prince George’s County Police Department has recently been the subject of scrutiny. In an October complaint sent to the Department of Justice, a group of minority officers claimed “rampant discrimination” inside the police department.
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