One of two former Landover Mall security guards found guilty Friday of assaulting two shoppers during an arrest last November may also face disciplinary action by the military, an Air Force spokeswoman said yesterday.
Thomas McLaughlin, 32, an Air Force staff sergeant who worked as a guard at the mall during his off-duty hours, was found guilty of assaulting Eugene Darnell Thompson, 18.
Thompson and his 16-year-old nephew, John Thompson Jr., charged that they were kicked and beaten by security guards as they were being arrested. The Thompsons were charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
McLaughlin, who is no longer employed at the mall, is still assigned to the Office of Special Investigation at Andrews Air Force Base, said Lt. Linda Taylor, a spokeswoman at the base.
"The appropriate commanders will evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding [McLaughlin's] off-duty employment to determine if any military action is appropriate," Taylor said.
But McLaughlin's attorney, John Shay, said his client does not expect to be disciplined by the military as a result of the verdict.
Reports of the incident at the mall sparked a protest by shoppers.
An investigation by state police led to charges being placed against McLaughlin and three other security guards.
John Thompson Jr. was subsequently acquitted of the charges of assault and resisting arrest, his attorney said.
Eugene Darnell Thompson is scheduled to go to trial in September on the disorderly conduct charges.
Security arrangements at the mall have improved since the incident, said Ron Gallegos, who was hired as director of security in mid-June.
"We're more careful now in hiring. I'd rather be shorthanded and have good people on board," Gallegos said. He said none of the four guards is still employed at the mall.
At the same trial Friday, Prince George's County District Court Judge Irving Fisher also found a second guard, Gary F. Byrd, 21, guilty of assaulting both Thompsons.
A third guard, David Kevin McCloud, was acquitted of the charges. The fourth guard, William Dean Ehresman, testified for the prosecution. Prosecutors would not say if Ehresman will go to trial.
No sentencing date has been set for the two guards found guilty. Shay said there has been no decision whether to appeal McLaughlin's conviction. The attorney for Byrd would not comment.
"I was disappointed," said Shay of the judgment. "We thought we fought hard."
In his job at Andrews, McLaughlin handles technical assignments, including photography, for the office that investigates crime, fraud and counterintelligence, the Air Force spokeswoman said.
Attorneys for the Thompsons and John Thompson's mother said they were satisfied with the judgment. "I just wanted justice to be done," said Shirley Thompson. "I didn't want my son to feel threatened everywhere he went."