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2 P.G. officers indicted in 2010 beating of U.Md. student

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A year and a half after three Prince George's County police officers were videotaped beating a University of Maryland student who had taken to the street with others to celebrate a victory by the men's basketball team, two of the officers involved have been indicted.

Officers Reginald Baker and James Harrison of the department's Special Operations Division were charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and misconduct in office stemming from the incident.

Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks made the announcement in front of the county courthouse Tuesday afternoon.

"I take absolutely no pride in today's announcement," she said. "As the state's attorney, among the most difficult decisions I must make is when to bring charges against police officers."

Ms. Alsobrooks did not take questions.

More than 1,500 people took to the streets of College Park the night of March 3, 2010, to celebrate a victory over longtime rival Duke University. Law enforcement agencies were on high alert the day of the game, as previous games had ended in riots that caused thousands of dollars worth of damage on campus.

Police arrested 36 people in connection with the post-game celebrations. Among them were John "Jack" McKenna III, 23, and Benjamin Donat, 21. Each was charged with disorderly conduct and assault of a police officer.

In the court documents, police said the two were "running in the middle of Baltimore Avenue screaming" and struck two mounted police officers. The documents also state the horses kicked the two men, causing minor injuries.

But more than a month after the beating, a video emerged showing Mr. McKenna skipping toward police officers on horseback and being shoved against a wall and beaten by three officers in riot gear just as he starts to back away from the horses.

Attorneys for the men said Mr. Donat was beaten about a block away by officers in a separate incident.

The videotape contradicted statements that police officers made in charging documents against Mr. McKenna and Mr. Donat — and it prompted state and federal investigations into whether police used excessive force when dealing with students that night.

The charges against the students were later dropped by the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office for lack of evidence.

Terry Roberts, the attorney for Mr. McKenna, said his client was "gratified" by the decision and "will fully support the prosecutors' effort in this case."

He said a civil suit is pending.

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