Despite being convicted of second-degree assault after a jury trial last month, a Prince George’s police officer remains on the force, pending an internal investigation, according to police department officials.
Cpl. James Harrison was found guilty of repeatedly beating a University of Maryland, College Park, student with a baton when responding to a student celebration in College Park after the UM men’s basketball team beat rival Duke on March 3, 2010.
A suspension hearing following the Oct. 19 circuit court jury verdict resulted in Harrison being suspended with pay and placed on administrative leave, according to county police.
Cpl. Reginald Baker, who was on trial alongside Harrison for also being involved in the incident, was acquitted on all counts due to him being the first to strike the then-standing UM student to subdue him while Harrison began beating him after he was on the ground, according to the Prince George’s state’s attorney’s office. Baker is also now suspended with pay and on administrative leave, according to police officials.
Both officers, part of PGPD’s Civil Disturbance Unit, were originally charged with first- and second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Julie Parker, a county police spokeswoman, said even though Harrison was convicted of a crime, officers have rights under Maryland's Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights that do not afford the agency an outright option to terminate him based solely on being convicted of second-degree assault, a misdemeanor in the state of Maryland.
Parker said while the circuit court jury reached a verdict and Harrison awaits a sentencing hearing Dec. 14, PGPD’s administrative investigation into the incident is still being conducted for both officers.
She said Harrison and Baker will face an administrative hearing board at the conclusion of the internal investigation.
“The Prince George's County Police Department is committed to a transparent process that both respects the interests of the community and the personnel rights of the involved police officers,” said Parker in an email to The Gazette.