Baltimore school officer charged after hitting teen in video
A Baltimore school police officer has been charged after he was caught on video slapping and kicking a teen.
Anthony Spence, 44, was charged Tuesday with second-degree assault, second-degree child abuse by a custodian, and misconduct in office. Saverna Bias, 53, another officer who was seen standing by in the video as Spence hit the teenager, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
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The widely circulated cell phone video that appeared to have been shot by a student at the school showed Spence kicking and slapping a teenager at REACH Partnership School on March 1, while Bias stood nearby.
Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith said in a statement that the charges were filed after an investigation by Special Investigation Response Team.
"The team conducted interviews and gathered evidence related to this case. They consulted with the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office after they concluded their investigation. Charges were prepared and filed with the commissioner yesterday evening," Smith said.
Both officers posted bond and were released Wednesday morning, according to court documents.
In a conversation with the Associated Press last Friday, Spence acknowledged that he was the subject of a criminal investigation, but said the media would "twist" the story.
"Right now I'm the bad guy," he told the Associated Press.
Lauren Geisser, an attorney for the teen in the video, told NBC News last week that the victim is a 10th grader at REACH, a middle and high school that prepares students for college and careers in healthcare and construction.
"The child and the family want to keep their names private. He's a minor child. He was injured and his family is traumatized by what happened," Geisser told NBC News.
The school confirmed in a statement last Friday that the victim "is believed to be a student on the school's roster," but did not release his identity.
According to Smith, city school police will continue to handle the internal investigation into the incident and the criminal case will be handled by the State Attorney's Office's Public Integrity Unit.
The video of the incident, which has gone viral, has renewed a debate in Baltimore over whether school police officers are helpful or hurtful.
"Police increase the likelihood of juveniles being pushed into the criminal justice system for low-level offenses," Baltimore public defender Jenny Egan said at a city school board meeting Tuesday. "I represented students who were arrested for throwing a carrot and stealing Pokémon cards."
Both officers are due in court for their first appearance in April.