Police Assault Case Causes Police Response to Editorial

Assault on Students at University of Maryland after Basketball

Police assault on students generated a post on the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) blog, in which the police chief characterized a Washington Post editorial as “exaggerated and misleading.”

On March 3, 2010, Prince George’s County police officers were videotaped beating Maryland student John McKenna with batons as McKenna and others celebrated a University of Maryland basketball victory over Duke University. PGPD conducted an investigation and two officers were indicted on first- and second-degree assault charges, as well as misconduct in office offenses. One officer was convicted and served a 30-day home detention sentence. The other officer was acquitted.

Editorial Criticizes Police Handling of Student Assault Case

In its response to the Washington Post editorial, which asserted that police “got away with” beating McKenna, Chief of Police Mark A. Magaw stated on the blog that:

  • What happened to McKenna was wrong.
  • The involved officers were identified, indicted and prosecuted.
  • The PGPD has taken “unprecedented steps” to improve discipline and training oversight.
  • The PGPD has completely overhauled the strategy and training to handle civil disturbances.
  • The PGPD is working in conjunction with the University of Maryland to ensure that “the mistakes of the past” are not repeated.

What is the Definition of Assault?

Maryland separates assault in two degrees: first degree assault, which is a felony; and second degree assault, which is a misdemeanor. Assault in the second degree happens when one person physically injures another. The injuries can be minor or cause physical injury, but not serious or permanent injury.

Second-degree assault also includes causing a reasonable person to fear imminent physical harm. This means that even if you did not physically touch another person but you caused them to have a reasonable fear of being hurt by you, you could potentially be charged with assault.

Battery, which is also considered an assault crime, means unlawfully, offensively touching another person without his or her agreement. In most situations, however, assault does refer to a fight or disagreement that has turned physically violent.

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When you need top-ranked criminal defense counsel for assault charges, attorney Jonathan Scott Smith will aggressively fight to protect your constitutional rights. Call our office at 410-740-0101, or contact us online, to schedule an appointment. We represent criminal defendants in Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Frederick County, Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County and Montgomery County in Maryland.



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