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O'Malley: Police must be investigated "fairly" in taped beating of U-Md. student


"A very serious matter," O'Malley says, but ""very few of us were actually there, on the scene"

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley seemed caught off guard in a radio interview on Monday when asked to comment on the apparent police beating of an unarmed University of Maryland student that has drawn international attention and led to a civil rights probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In his monthly appearance on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" program, O'Malley stopped short of condemning the beating in similarly tough terms used by Prince George's Police Chief Roberto Hylton or State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.

After a video of the March 3 altercation surfaced last week, Hylton said he was "outraged and disappointed." Ivey vowed to take officers before a grand jury, saying "excessive force will not be tolerated."

o'malley.JPGWhen asked by WTOP host Mark Segraves, O'Malley repeated Segraves' description of the beating as "a very serious matter" and said that although he has not discussed the matter with Prince George's officials, he thought county leaders were responding appropriately.

O'Malley, however, then went on to say that "very few of us were actually there, on the scene" and because of that and other improvements made to Prince George's long troubled police department "we owe it to that good work to conduct this investigation [into officers' conduct] fairly and properly and following due process."

A tape released last week shows three Prince George's County police officers in riot gear using their batons to beat John J. McKenna, 21, following a University of Maryland-Duke basketball game on March. 3.

The video shows McKenna skipping along a sidewalk before he stops in front of a phalanx of officers on horseback. As he stood there, two Prince George's officers ran and attacked him. A third officer later joined the beating. McKenna required eight staples to close a gash on his scalp. An initial police report appeared to be falsified, saying McKenna was injured by horses.

The FBI is investigating and four Prince George's officers have been relieved of police powers while they remain under investigation.

When asked about the incident at the beginning of the program, O'Malley initially tried to steer the interview to recent positive news for the state.

"You don't want to start with the fact that Maryland led all states in job creation for the month of March? You don't want to talk about the rebound of the blue crab?" O'Malley said.

Later, O'Malley said, "So long as we have human beings who do these difficult jobs, and indeed human beings in any profession, there will always be times that call upon us to investigate, and where necessary, act, in order to address behavior that is outside of what is expected."

O'Malley, who will likely face former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. in a November rematch for a second term as Maryland's governor, won four years ago in part on a reputation as a tough on crime Baltimore mayor. In 2006, the state's largest law enforcement union backed Ehrlich.

Asked in an e-mail following the radio interview if O'Malley shares Hylton's reaction of "outraged and disappointed" to the beating video, O'Malley press secretary Shaun Adamec said, "It's obviously very disturbing, and the governor has said as much. I think it's appropriate to stick with the words the governor has used to describe his feelings on the matter."

In that spirit, here's the transcript of the governor's full response:

Mark Segraves: "...Let's talk about this video, you must have seen it by now. It's a very serious matter. And to make sure our listeners are up to speed, it shows several Prince George's County officers beating an unarmed University of Maryland student. The initial police report that was filed said the student was injured by horses. We now know from seeing that video that's not the case, several officers have been suspended. There's an investigation, in fact a federal investigation. Your thoughts now?"

O'Malley: "My thoughts are that this is a very serious matter and it's one that's being taken seriously by not only the chief of police for Prince George's County but also by the county executive. So long as we have human beings who do these difficult jobs, and indeed human beings in any profession, there will always be times that call upon us to investigate, and where necessary, act, in order to address behavior that is outside of what is expected.

And so, this is a very serious matter. Everybody, I mean, lots of people have seen the video. Very few of us were actually there, on the scene. But I'm sure this matter will receive the attention that it deserves from the chief of police of Prince George's County. And I think that, um, you know, part of the responsibility that we have in any police force is to not only police the streets, but to police our own force when necessary.

I'm very proud of the strides Prince Georges' County has made in violent crime reduction and their reduction of auto thefts. And we owe it to that good work to conduct this investigation fairly and properly and following due process, because the most important thing that protects officers on the street is the trust the public has in their integrity."


By Aaron C. Davis  |  April 19, 2010; 12:29 PM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis  | Tags: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gov. Martin O'Malley, Police, Police officer, Prince George, Prince George's County Maryland, University of Maryland, University of Maryland College Park  
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Comments

I wonder why the “officers” who attacked this individual were treating him “fairly”? I also wonder why the “officer” who filed the false complaint in order to justify the arrest had treated this individual fairly by lying? Now the cops want to be treated fairly. Give me a break, how can any of these lying scumbags ever be trusted again!!! Their colleagues who witnessed this miscarriage of justice and did nothing to stop it, nor did they refute the falsely filed report suddenly want fair treatment. What a bunch of hypocrites the PiG Police are. A bunch of thugs with badges and guns.

Posted by: OhBrother67 | April 19, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Students of the University of Maryland: For a BS in BS, please consult Gov. Martin O'Malley. His answer above is textbook bs that seems to please everyone as if no one was hurt in the process. And with Gov. O'Malley as an example, let this be a lesson to all of you, yes, you can succeed in life by simply babbling your way through.

Posted by: h20andoil | April 19, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Typical BS from a politician who's scared to lose police officers who are potential supporters of O'Malley. Way to go Marty, it's open season on the citizenry according to our governor. The spirit of Darryl Gates lives on in Martin O'Malley.

Posted by: kmp1 | April 19, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Plain and simple. These police officers are guilty of assault and battery. Arrest them and throw the book at them.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | April 19, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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