Sunday, September 07, 2008

Detective and Deputy Charged with Beating Man Unconscious

A Baltimore City homicide detective and a Baltimore County sheriff's deputy have been charged with assault after a man was beaten until he was unconscious last September outside of a Govans barbershop while they were off duty.

Prosecutors charged Terry W. Love Jr., a nine-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, and Deputy Sheriff Michael Herring with second-degree assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, as well as reckless endangerment and use of a deadly weapon with intent to injure. The incident occurred outside of the Detailer Barber Shop on York Road, a block from the Senator Theatre.

The charges were filed Friday, nearly a full year after the Sept. 8, 2007, incident - just before the one-year statute of limitations for misdemeanors was set to expire.

Charges against a third person were dropped last year. But family of victim Andre Thomas, 43, who is in jail on an assault charge, said they were relieved that prosecutors have continued to pursue the case.

"It does my heart well," said brother Tyrone Thomas, a pastor at the Charity Community Church of God. "My brother didn't put his hands on anybody, and they beat him literally until he was unconscious. He could have died, and they went on with their life as usual. They're supposed to uphold the law."

Sterling Clifford, a police spokesman, said Love had been suspended with pay and placed on administrative duties since the incident. With the criminal charges, he has now been suspended without pay and his police powers have been removed, Clifford said. He declined to comment on the charges, as did police union President Paul M. Blair Jr.

"Officers are presumed innocent, just like anybody else," Blair said.

Baltimore County Sheriff R. Jay Fisher did not respond to a request for comment about Herring's status. Neither Herring, 36, nor Love, 31, could be reached.

The officers are not the first to be charged in connection with the attack. Bernard Dutton, 34, a barber at Detailer, was charged the day of the incident with first-degree assault and "conspiring with an unknown person" to assault Thomas. But those charges were dropped three months later.

Thomas' brothers said that before the incident, they would get their hair cut weekly at the barbershop. According to court records from that case, Thomas went into the barbershop looking for one of his brothers and began arguing with Dutton. Thomas left the barbershop and was walking north on York Road when three men began kicking and punching him, the records say.

Another brother, Patrick Thomas, told The Baltimore Sun that Andre Thomas was first struck and knocked to the ground with a kick to the back. Court records show Andre Thomas told police that Dutton was wearing brass knuckles and that another one of the suspects was wearing a black and yellow "sheriff shirt."

In a brief interview, Dutton accused Andre Thomas of filing a "falsified police report" and said that Thomas had been "apprehended" by the officers. Later asked to clarify, he said his lawyer had instructed him not to talk about the incident.

Love's father, Terry W. Love, has been a Baltimore police officer since 1983 and has worked in the department's intelligence section. Court records indicate that last year the father and son both worked on an investigation of a homicide that occurred on The Block.

Terry Love Jr.'s suspension was mentioned in an unrelated nine-count complaint filed in February with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in which Sgt. Kelvin Sewell wrote that he and Love had been subjected to unusual treatment after Love was transferred to his homicide squad in 2007.

He wrote that Love had been suspended in September 2007 "for an incident that took place off-duty."

"I was advised ... that Detective Love cannot work on any homicide investigations in or outside the office, and he is not allowed to operate any departmental vehicles while suspended," Sewell wrote. "It was explained to me that, by Detective Love working on these homicide cases, he could compromise the investigation because he's suspended."

Sewell is listed as a police witness in the assault case filed Friday.