U-Md. failure to produce police beating video an 'oversight', says state police
The failure of University of Maryland officials to promptly comply with a subpoena for video footage from a university camera that may have shown the beating of a student by Prince George's County police was an "oversight," Maryland State Police have concluded.
The university video footage was subpoenaed by attorneys for student John J. McKenna, 21, in connection with the March 3 incident.
University officials quoted from the conclusion of the MSP's report in a press release: "There is no evidence of collusion, or intentional mishandling of evidence. Every effort was made to comply with the subpoena and preserve the evidence; the failure to capture the the images by EMPLOYEE (name withheld by the university) was an oversight."
The report went on to say that members of the university's Security Operations Center handled the evidence as they were directed to. The delay in handing over video footage to attorneys for the beaten student would not have occurred if a supervisor had reviewed the index of DVDs the employee burned in order to comply with the subpoena, the report concludes.
Attorneys for McKenna were provided about 60 hours of videotape, but were not given videotape showing the street on which McKenna was beaten during the time frame in which that incident occurred.
Attorneys for McKenna subpoenaed unversity video on March 9. In a letter dated April 19, university officials said they could not locate video footage for the street in which the incident occurred during the time it occurred.
A reporter for WJLA-TV learned about the missing videotape and told university officials he was going to report on it. About two hours before that report was to be broadcast, university officials said they found the missing footage, though about three minutes are missing.
University officials have said they do not believe the three missing minutes were relevant and the missing footage did not include the time when the beating occurred.
On the night McKenna was beaten, scores of university students took to the streets around College Park to celebrate the men's basketball team's victory over Duke. In an effort to head off the kind of trouble that has occurred in past years after victories over Duke, about 100 Prince George's County riot officers were on the street. In past years, some students have damaged property during their celebrations.
Police charged McKenna with assaulting an officer on horseback and his horse. Police charging documents allege McKenna sustained injuries inflicted by a police horse.
A video taken by a student shows McKenna skipping on a sidewalk before stopping in front of a phalanx of officers on horseback. As McKenna backs up, two county police officers in riot gear rush hiim and slam him against a wall; at least one of them hits McKenna repeatedly with a police baton. As McKenna crumples to the ground, the video shows, a third officer rushes in and strikes him repeatedly.
McKenna suffered a concussion and contusions, according to his attorneys, and needed staples in his head to close a wound.
County prosecutors dropped charges against McKenna before the video was released. After the video was released, county police placed four officers on suspension with pay. The actions of the officers are under investigation by the police department, the state's attorney's office and the FBI.
-- Ruben Casteneda
May 26, 2010; 10:47 AM ET
Categories: Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda , Schools , Updates | Tags: Prince George's County police, University of Maryland
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