BALTIMORE — A Baltimore City police officer has been 'removed' after striking a woman on Friday night.
A viral video shows the woman striking a Sergeant twice. An officer then came behind the woman and hit her.
The woman fell to the ground. She was then arrested and taken to an area hospital for treatment.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison viewed the video and ordered an investigation into the incident.
According to the Baltimore Police Department, the officer who struck the woman has been removed from his police duties during the investigation.
The video has been widely shared on social media.
Several city authorities have released statements.
Here's what Baltimore City Police said:
Last night, the Department became aware of an incident involving the arrest of a woman by two of our officers. A video posted online showed a women striking a Police Sergeant twice in the face and then a Police Officer striking her in the head. She was subsequently taken into custody and transported to an area hospital for an emergency petition. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison viewed the video and ordered an immediate investigation into this incident by the Department's Special Investigations Response Team unit which is part of the Public Integrity Bureau. The Deputy Commissioner for PIB has directed a full review and has suspended the officer’s police powers during the investigations.
Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young said of the incident:
"The video circulating online of a woman assaulting a police officer, seconds before a separate officer approaches her and strikes her, with what appears to be his closed fist, is deeply disturbing and is under investigation.
I have spoken with Commissioner Michael Harrison and the officer who struck the woman has been removed from police duties. I've also asked Commissioner Harrison to relay a simple message to his command staff and to officers from across the City: sound, constitutional policing is the only acceptable way we're going to do things here in Baltimore under my watch.
I believe the first officer, who was struck multiple times by the woman, showed remarkable restraint by not retaliating as he was being assaulted. The woman should have been placed under arrest and not assaulted. Our system of justice does not involve the concept of an 'eye for an eye.'
The level of violence on our streets remains consistently high and we need to continue to stay focused on driving down violent crime and preserving life.
We're working to build the best police department in the country and we don't have room for error."
City Council President Brandon Scott said of the incident:
"Yesterday on social media, I was made aware of a video showing a woman being assaulted by a Baltimore police officer after she assaulted another officer. While the officer who was hit in the face did not respond with force, another BPD officer used a level of force that knocked the woman unconscious.
I completely understand the impulse of police officers to protect each other, but that cannot come at the expense of citizens' rights — especially when interacting with someone who was clearly experiencing a crisis.
What is depicted in that video is unacceptable and counterproductive to efforts to foster community-police interaction and deescalation tactics when citizens are in a state of crisis. I spoke to the Police Commissioner yesterday, who assured me that his team was on top of it, and I support today's announcement that the BPD officer who used a disproportionate level of force has been suspended.
At a time when tensions are high and people are expressing their justified pain to ongoing injustice and gun violence, I need our officers to be focused on keeping people safe. Again, I thank all of the officers who are actively protecting the right of Baltimoreans to peacefully protest.
As someone who was at last night's protest Downtown, I thank the citizens who expressed their pain and frustration at our broken system in a peaceful way. As protests continue this afternoon in Baltimore, I encourage Baltimoreans to make their voices heard while looking out for each other and our communities.
I will continue to be out on the street and in neighborhoods listening and talking to Baltimoreans. Collectively, we are tired, angry and sad. We know the status quo is not acceptable.
People need hope and reason to believe that they will have an opportunity for a better life, a better tomorrow for themselves, their children, and their neighbors. We have to pull together as one Baltimore to transform that hope into reality."