BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore Police officer who was captured on video being kicked while trying to make an arrest has been indicted on charges that he gave misleading information about what led to the confrontation.
Sgt. Welton Simpson, a 19-year veteran, said at the time that Zayne Abdullah, 23, spit in his face and hit him, The Baltimore Sun reported. But body camera footage produced earlier this month by defense attorneys showed Simpson arguing with Abdullah before shoving him, sparking a scuffle that ended with Abdullah’s arrest and charges against two others. Both Simpson and Abdullah are Black.
A grand jury indicted Simpson on Friday on charges of giving a false statement to law enforcement and misconduct in office. The indictment says Simpson omitted key facts and escalated the situation during the attempted arrest in January, which is against Baltimore Police Department policy.
The new indictment says Simpson also improperly used a chokehold on Abdullah, which they say is a “level 3” use of force and “prohibited unless deadly force is authorized.” He is not charged with assault, however.
“Wearing a uniform and a badge means that the public needs to trust you and believe you," State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement. “The indictment alleges that the officer violated this trust by making false statements and engaging in misconduct. We cannot accept and will not tolerate such actions.”
Mosby, Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young all condemned the kicking of the officer when the video of the confrontation went viral in January, and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the officer had done nothing wrong.
Natalie Finegar, Abdullah’s defense attorney, said she was informed that charges against her client and a second man, Donnell Burgess, are being dropped by prosecutors on Monday.
Finegar said she was glad for the resolution, but said the evidence had long been in possession of law enforcement.
“It’s unfortunate my client spent four months incarcerated waiting for this investigation,” Finegar said.