BALTIMORE — Police say it happened on Ashton Street in Southwest Baltimore last week.
Sergeant Ethan Newberg, a 24-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, was affecting an arrest when a passerby simply told Newberg not to make the suspect sit on the wet ground and continued walking.
According to court documents, Newberg then ran after the passerby and arrested him for “not knowing how to act.”
Documents then say body worn camera footage shows Newberg telling others on scene to shut their mouths...even telling another officer who responded to never question the way he did things and calling him a “kumbaya” officer.
But Newberg’s actions were questioned by Commissioner Michael Harrison, and, in a hastily called news conference Thursday night, he announced Newberg was charged and suspended without pay.
"The commissioner was appropriate in taking swift action to do what he did so we can restore trust in the police department,” said Mayor Jack Young, “The officer will have his day in court. No one has said he is guilty of anything, but what I saw on the video, I was very disturbed by."
Young commends Harrison for the quick action.
The body worn camera footage of this incident, although not shared publicly, seems to clearly show the event.
Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott saw it and says it is flies in the face of Baltimore Police Department reforms.
"it's a disgrace to the city of Baltimore," Scott said. "It is a disgrace to every Baltimorean and every hard-working police officer. We want a department they can all believe in, and those kinds of actions go against that."
Newberg was arrested Thursday night. He has since posted bond and was released.
Late Friday afternoon, the President of Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police released a statement;
"Four months ago, Baltimore City was introduced to our current Police Commissioner, Michael Harrison. Upon his arrival, he made a media tour of Baltimore, proclaiming his successes in New Orleans and decreeing to all that he was here to reform the Baltimore Police Department, implement the Consent Decree, and forge a strong partnership with the community” said Mike Mancuso, President of Baltimore FOP.
“To this day he has said very little as to what he plans to do for you, his officers. He has no crime plan and when he finally does announce one (after pressure) it appears that it will be some five months or more since his arrival as police commissioner or approximately 130 murders when his crime plan arrives.”
"As I watched the press conference that was held last night by him, I was struck by how willing the commissioner was to condemn an on duty, uniformed police sergeant after watching the body worn camera video of an incident. However, about two weeks ago, this same commissioner would not condemn those who robbed and assaulted innocent citizens at the Inner Harbor, which was also captured on video. Also, the commissioner waited about five days after the Inner Harbor fiasco to give a statement only to denounce my Tweet by calling it “highly inappropriate” and the commissioner continued, “not to mention as far as we can tell, they were, in fact, kids, and it’s not unusual for teenagers to congregate and act obnoxiously and do juvenile and stupid things.” Although, I’m very sure that the people stomped and beaten and robbed at the harbor do not feel that it matters whether they were “kids” or “teenagers”. I’m also certain they don’t feel as though It was just “obnoxious” and “juvenile” and “stupid things” that happened to them that weekend," Mancuso added.
"How then, can this be the same man who said that he reviewed Sgt. Newberg’s BWC video and made the decision, himself, to have Sgt. Criminally charged? How does the level of violence that occurred at the Harbor get a pass, in regard to the commissioner’s comments about my tweet, while Sgt. Newborn is trashed by the commissioner on TV and criminally charged? AM I missing something here? I don’t think so! I believe politics are at play here and so do many I have spoken with today in regard to this matter."
Mancuso continued, "Ladies and gentlemen of the Baltimore Police Department, I have not seen the video yet and I am not commenting on facts of that case. I am just pointing out that a leader should be consistent, and a leader does not pick and choose when to make decisions based on how it will be received politically."
"The commissioner has made it clear that when you are being proactive and you make a decision he does not agree with or a bad decision in the moment, or you make mistake, you will be held to the same level as an officer that planned to do wrong. Please keep the commissioner’s decision in mind as you go about your tour of duty, each and every day.”