A 13-year-old Baltimore girl needed 10 stitches in her head after a police officer hit her with a baton in an altercation caught on video, WBAL-TV reported.
The video, released today, shows the encounter between the officer and the girl, identified as Diamond. A photograph taken after the incident last October shows a bandage on Diamond’s head and bloodstains on her Vanguard Middle School shirt. Two of her relatives, who also attend Vanguard, were also involved. The name of the officer involved in the incident has not been released.
Footage shows Diamond’s cousin, identified as Starr, talking to the officer after walking down a stairway. The officer then grabs her by the arm and pushes her against a wall and seems to hold her by her hair at one point.
“The officer was hollering at her and said, ‘Little girl, get down here,'” Starr’s grandmother, Vanessa Ward, told WBAL. “And so Starr said, ‘My name is not little girl, it’s Starr.’ Starr came on down the steps, and Starr said that’s when the officer grabbed her.”
Starr’s sister is then seen approaching the scene and arguing with the officer after finding out that Starr was involved. Diamond is then seen trying to step between the officer and Starr.
The officer lets Starr go and begins chasing Diamond. The officer then draws her baton and hits Diamond, who is backed against a wall with her hands up.
Neals said that the school did not tell her that her daughter had been hurt by the officer. Instead, she said, she found out from paramedics. The officer was also seen using pepper spray against the other two girls as they were being restrained by a school official. All three girls had to be hospitalized.
“The officer kind of comes from behind and reaches around and sprays them multiple times in the face with pepper spray,” the family’s attorney, Jared Jaskot, said. “It’s disgusting.”
Diamond and her cousins were suspended from Vanguard and charged with assaulting an officer following the incident. School officials reportedly claimed that the officer was punched, kicked and scratched in the face. But the charges were dropped after prosecutors reviewed the video.
Even though the charges were dropped, the girls were sent to alternative schools after Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Gregory Thornton upheld their suspensions. Jaskot said he and the family are working to overturn that ruling.
“[Thornton] said that he reviewed their case and sustained the officer’s findings,” Jaskot said. “What he reviewed, I have no idea, and I can’t wait to see.”
The school has not commented on the incident. WBAL reported that Gene Ryan, head of the local police union, justified the officer’s actions, saying she was correct in using her baton because she was trying to make an arrest. However, Ryan said the officer was reassigned to administrative duties after a complaint from the family spurred an internal investigation.
Watch footage of the incident, as posted online, below.