Baltimore Police Officer Charged After Body Cam Captures Wrongful Arrest

A Baltimore Police officer is facing criminal charges after body cam footage contradicted his report that a Black man passing by the arrest of another man was “combative and aggressive.”The incident occurred on May 30, when Lee Dotson saw two Baltimore officers force a man to sit on a wet curb and made a comment. “That ground wet, man,” Dotson said calmly as he passed the scene in southwestern Baltimore and walked away.

In response, Sergeant Ethan Newberg told Dotson, “Why don’t you mind your business?” He then chased Dotson down the street, grabbed him by the arm and attempted to take him down. Body cam footage shows another officer tackle Dotson down to the ground and handcuff him.Dotson is heard complaining about the way officers are treating him and says his rights are being violated. Newberg responds by saying: “Take your charge like a man.” The veteran officer later told Dotson that he was going to jail because he does not “know how to act,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.

An officer is seen attempting to diffuse the situation and tells Newberg to “Simmer down. Just relax, relax.” Newberg dismisses him, tells him to leave the scene and says: “Don’t you ever tell me how to do my job.” Newberg later called the Hispanic officer “a kumbaya officer,” investigators said.Newberg, 49, claimed in his incident report that Dotson had been “combative and aggressive.” The officers also said that Dotson had incited the hostilities by interfering and squaring off with them, The Baltimore Sun reported. The body cam footage showed the complete opposite, leading to the arrest of Newberg, a 24-year veteran sergeant in the force.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison criticized Newberg’s behavior and said the officer’s actions depict a “horrible culture” within the force. Newberg and the subordinate officer involved were suspended after body cam video disproved their account of the arrest, according to the AP.

“From what I saw, the man did nothing to provoke Sergeant Newberg, whose actions were not just wrong but deeply disturbing and illegal,” Harrison said during a press conference on June 7. “Be tough on crime, but be soft on people.”

Harrison’s stance was quickly criticized by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3’s president Sergeant Mike Mancuso in an open letter on June 7.

“I was struck by how willing the Commissioner was to condemn an on duty, uniformed Police Sergeant after watching the body worn camera video of an incident,” Mancuso wrote. “However, about two weeks ago, this same Commissioner would not condemn those who robbed and assaulted innocent citizens at the Inner Harbor, which was also captured on video.”Mancuso then claimed that “politics are at play” with the different approaches. The FOP 3 did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment.In an interview with The Baltimore Sun, Dotson said that Newberg told him that he just wanted to inconvenience him with the arrest. “He said that, ‘As long as I don’t hear from you, I won’t come to court.’”

Dotson was charged with disorderly conduct, interfering with an arrest and drug charges. Officers claimed they found a small bag of suspected cocaine hidden beneath his pants. Prosecutors later dropped all charges against Dotson.Just 24 hours after the Baltimore Police said he had been wrongfully arrested, he was arrested again. According to The Baltimore Sun, the 28-year-old faces charges of drug possession and obstruction after he was pulled over for his car’s window tint, missing front license plate, and a rear license plate “positioned in an unusual manner."

Officers who pulled Dotson over wrote in their report that they smelled marijuana, prompting them to search Dotson and his car. Police found 7 grams of crack cocaine on Dotson, The Baltimore Sun reported. Jail records show that Dotson is being held at Baltimore Central Booking & Intake.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.