Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two More Officers Suspended Over Beating

Prince George's County police said Thursday that they have suspended two more officers in connection with an incident last month in which officers in riot gear beat an unarmed University of Maryland student who had taken to the streets with hundreds of others to celebrate a victory by the men's basketball team over Duke University.

With those suspensions, a total of four county officers have been relieved of their police powers in connection with the attack of John J. McKenna, 21. The March 3 beating was captured on video by another student and has been aired all across the world since McKenna's attorney released it on Monday.

The video shows McKenna skipping on a sidewalk before stopping before a phalanx of officers on horseback. As McKenna backs up, two county officers in riot gear rush him and knock him against a wall; at least one of them hits McKenna repeatedly with a police baton. As McKenna crumples to the ground, the video shows, a third officer rushes in and strikes him repeatedly with his baton.

McKenna suffered a concussion and other injuries, his attorney said.

The FBI, the state's attorney's office and police internal affairs detectives are all investigating the incident.

In addition to the beating, they are focusing on official charging documents filed by Officer Sean McAleavey against McKenna and another student.

The charging documents allege that McKenna and Benjamin C. Donat, 19, assaulted officers on horseback and their mounts, and were injured by horses. Prosecutors dropped charges against McKenna and Donat before the video surfaced.

McAleavey is the only suspended officer who has been publicly identified by officials.

In another development, Maj. Daniel A. Dusseau, commander of the 1st District and the official who was in charge of the police response the night of the beating, is retiring, officials said.

Dusseau, a 21-year veteran, has taken a job in the private sector and will retire at the end of the month, said Maj. Andy Ellis, a police spokesman. Ellis said the retirement is unrelated to the controversy over the College Park incident.

Said Dusseau: "My retirement and movement to another job is something I've been working on since I was eligible to retire and has nothing to do with the incidents going on in College Park," he said.