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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 August 2018

US officer suspended after punching incident recorded

It is the latest incident amid outcry over US police brutality 

The alleged assault is one of many levelled at US officers (Reuters)
The alleged assault is one of many levelled at US officers (Reuters)

A Baltimore police officer was suspended on Saturday after a video surfaced online showing him repeatedly punching a man and knocking him down over steps on a sidewalk, in a recording that lasts about 30 seconds and the city's interim police commissioner said "deeply disturbed" him.

The video begins with the officer standing in front of a black man who has his back to a wall. The officer, who is also black, can be seen shoving the man in the chest before the officer starts throwing punches. The man tries to block punches from the officer but doesn't appear to fight back. The man is pushed over some steps by the officer who continues to throw punches, and the video ends with the officer on top of him.

"I'm deeply disturbed by the video that surfaced online earlier today," interim Police Commissioner Garry Tuggle said in a statement. "The officer involved has been suspended while we investigate the totality of this incident. Part of our investigation will be reviewing body worn camera footage."

Tuggle is asking any witnesses to contact the department's Office of Professional Responsibility at 410-396-2300.

Former NAACP head Ben Jealous, a Democrat who is running for governor, said the video "shows just how far community-police relations have fallen in Baltimore, as well as the work that must be done in partnership with city officials to restore trust."

"Building trust begins first and foremost by responding swiftly and transparently, which is why I am heartened that the officer has been suspended pending internal review," Mr Jealous said in a statement. "Long term, we need to be investing in our communities and recruiting police officers who have the temperament, tools, and training to keep us safe without resorting to unnecessary violence."

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Baltimore entered a federal consent decree last year after federal investigators detailed longstanding patterns of unconstitutional policing, racial profiling and excessive force. A consent decree, filed in federal court and overseen by a monitor, is generally a road map for changes in fundamental police department practices. In Baltimore's case, the agreement mandates changes in the most fundamental aspects of daily police work, including use of force, searches and arrests.

Federal authorities began investigating city police following the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who was fatally injured while in the custody of officers.

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