Trial starting for cops charged with beating University of Maryland student

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Photo - Courtesy of youtube.com
Grainy footage provided to media outlets shows several police officers in riot gear striking a student, reported to be John J. McKenna, with batons after the University of Maryland's basketball victory over Duke in March 2010.
Courtesy of youtube.com Grainy footage provided to media outlets shows several police officers in riot gear striking a student, reported to be John J. McKenna, with batons after the University of Maryland's basketball victory over Duke in March 2010.
Local,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

The trial for two Prince George's County police officers charged with beating a University of Maryland student in 2010 is scheduled to begin Monday.

Reginald Baker and James Harrison were both indicted in September 2011 on charges of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

John J. McKenna, then a 21-year-old student, was beaten on March 3, 2010, after the Maryland men's basketball team upset the Duke Blue Devils, the Terrapins' conference rival and at the time the nation's fourth-ranked team.

Thousands of students took to the streets of College Park to celebrate the victory, and 28 people were arrested. Police had said that students were rioting, but students claimed that officers had overreacted.

In April 2010, McKenna's attorney provided media outlets footage of the beating. In the minute-long video, McKenna was dancing down the sidewalk and approached a police officer on a horse. Police officers in black riot gear are then seen moving in toward the student and slamming him against the wall. The student landed on the ground and two officers struck him several times with their batons.

A police report of the incident had said that McKenna and another student had struck the officers and caused their horses minor injuries. It also said that the horses kicked the students. But prosecutors dropped the charges against McKenna and the other student shortly after the incident.

Baker and Harrison, who were with the police department's special operations division, had their police powers suspended and are on paid administrative leave. A Prince George's County police spokesman said Friday that the department has no comment ahead of the trial.

"Charging any police officer with a crime is not a decision I take lightly," Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said at the time Baker and Harrison were indicted. "But when there is evidence of potential wrongdoing by a police officer, it would never be appropriate for me to look the other way."

The trial will be held in Prince George's County Circuit Court. Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office spokesman John Erzen said that he expects a verdict by the end of the week.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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Naomi Jagoda

Staff reporter
The Washington Examiner