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U-Md. officials seek inquiry of campus video in beating case

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The Prince George's County police have dropped charges against a University of Maryland student they claimed struck mounted Park Police officers and their horses after a basketball game in March. This video, shot by another student, shows police beating the student without apparent provocation.

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By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

University of Maryland officials have asked Maryland State Police to investigate why university video footage, subpoenaed by lawyers on behalf of a student who was beaten by Prince George's County police, was not immediately turned over to the lawyers -- and why a portion of the video is missing.

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Another video of the March 3 incident, taken by a student, shows three county police officers in riot gear beating U-Md. student John J. McKenna, 21. County police charged McKenna and another student, Benjamin C. Donat, with assaulting mounted officers with the Maryland-National Capital Park Police and their horses.

The student video does not show McKenna assaulting an officer or a horse. The charging document says McKenna was injured by a horse. The video does not show a horse touching him.

On March 9, attorneys for McKenna and Donat subpoenaed video footage from university cameras trained on Knox Road, near Route 1, according to a statement released Tuesday by Millree Williams, a university spokesman.

The campus Department of Public Safety downloaded about 60 hours of video onto 31 CDs, the statement says. No university police employees viewed any of the videos as they were being downloaded, the statement says.

The university also created an index of the CDs, the statement says. In examining the index, a university employee discovered that a 90-minute video segment was missing from Camera 158, the statement says. Camera 158 is trained on Knox Road, in the area where McKenna was beaten by county police, the statement says.

University officials determined that the 90-minute segment had not been copied from the server and that the original video was no longer available because it had been recorded over in accordance with "normal overwriting procedures," the statement says.

On Tuesday, the statement says, the university found relevant footage that had been requested before the subpoena was issued, the statement says. "The footage encompasses approximately 87 minutes of the missing 90-minute segment from Camera 158," the statement says. The footage covers the time frame of McKenna's beating and will be copied and provided to his attorneys, the statement said.

The story about the university video was reported Tuesday by WJLA (Channel 7).

Prosecutors dropped charges against McKenna and Donat. Four county police officers have been suspended in connection with the incident, which is being investigated by the FBI, the state's attorney's office and police internal affairs personnel.

The university police lieutenant in charge of copying the videos, Joanne Ardovini, is married to John Ardovini, one of the officers on horseback said to have been assaulted by McKenna and Donat.



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