Defendant Charged with Assault on Police Officer Found Not Guilty

As an Aggressive Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney, I have successfully defended hundreds of individuals who have been charged with assaulting police officers. The garden variety assault on a police officer case usually involves a defendant who is being arrested for another reason and the police officer claims that the defendant resisted that arrest and assaulted the officer in the process. These cases are usually relatively easy to deal with so long as the police officer was not seriously injured as most judges are aware of the tendency to exaggerate these incidents by the police.

I successfully defended a client who has charged in a not so typical assault on a police officer in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City this past week. The client was found not guilty in spite of the fact that my client had in fact punched a police officer who was sitting on a bar stool in a bar and the fact that the entire incident was caught on the establishment’s security video system. Here are the facts:

My client and several of his friends went into a bar in Baltimore City at roughly 1:30AM one night last year to purchase beer to go. My client, who had admittedly been drinking that evening, got into a verbal dispute with two individuals who were sitting at the bar drinking beer. My client’s friends pulled him away from the dispute and seemingly avoided an altercation. However, a few moments later my client went back over to these individuals and the argument resumed. Eventually my client punched one of the individuals in the face, knocking him from the bar stool to the ground. These individuals, who turned out to be Baltimore City Police Officers, pursued my client as he fled outside. Eventually my client ended up in the hospital with multiple abrasions, bruises and a concussion. Neither officer was injured in the incident.

The entire incident inside the bar was captured on video and appeared to be quite damning to my client. Unfortunately, the bar was not equipped with a camera outside so we have no video of what occurred there. The officer noted in his report that my client had resisted arrest. My client was charged with second degree assault and resisting arrest.

Now, in all honesty this is not the type of case that I would typically take to trial. The evidence in the case appeared overwhelming against my client. The State had the testimony of both police officers as well as the video that appeared to corroborate their testimony that they were simply minding their own business when my client initiated an argument and then struck one of the officers as he sat on a bar stool. The problem for my client was that he was on probation and was facing a long prison sentence on a violation of probation if he were to be convicted. We basically had no choice but to try to win the case at trial.

Fortunately, two things occurred which helped our case tremendously. The first was that the police officer who was assaulted was indicted on criminal charges and was therefore unavailable as a witness. The second was that we drew an excellent judge.

At trial the State produced the video which I unsuccessfully attempted to exclude from evidence by making a series of procedural objections. Then the other police officer testified. I was able to damage his credibility some because he claimed on direct examination by the State to have only consumed one beer. I cross examined him on the fact that he had been in the bar for an hour and a half and that the bartender had testified that he drank 3 or 4 beers. The officer, who was apparently worried because he had admitted that he was armed as he is required to be at all times in the City and was therefore not permitted to drink alcohol excessively, suddenly got a case of amnesia. All of a sudden he couldn’t remember how many beers he had or if he had anything else to drink at the bar or before.

I then questioned the officer about what had transpired outside and he admitted that the other officer and my client had struggled for a good five minutes before he was taken into custody while he had stood by and watched. I asked him why he had not assisted his partner and he essentially admitted that what occurred outside was a one on one fight between my client and the partner and not an officer attempting to subdue a resisting arrestee. I then introduced the pictures of him and the other officer that were taken that night along with several pictures of my client that were taken in the hospital. It was abundantly clear from these photos who had won and who had lost fight.

I called no witnesses on behalf of my client because I knew they would not be helpful and would only bolster the State’s case against my client. Instead I argued to the court that without producing the victim of the assault to testify that he had not consented to the assault, the State could not prevail as a matter of law. I argued that we could not hear what was said because there was no audio component and that we have no idea whether the officer had invited my client to resolve the dispute by way of a physical altercation. I also argued that the actions of the officer outside implied that he had in facts consented to fight my client. Otherwise, I argued, why had the other officer not helped his partner to subdue the defendant during their five minute scuffle in the alley outside of the bar. The court agreed with these arguments and acquitted my client of all charges. A very unusual result in a case where the crime was captured on tape.

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