Prosecutors began looking at Newberg’s interactions with citizens after a May incident. His body-worn camera captured him tackling a bystander who criticized an arrest and walked away. At the time, Newberg said the bystander was being combative.
Soon after, Newberg was arrested. Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said it was an example of a “horrible culture” of excessive force. It also prompted a review of Newberg’s daily interactions with citizens, Mosby said.
Between July 2018 and May 2019, prosecutors found nine incidents in which Newberg apparently harassed and intimidated citizens. The incidents unfolded in strikingly similar ways: Newberg, 49, questioned and restrained bystanders who were nearby during police interactions like traffic stops and arrests, according to an indictment obtained by The Post.
In one January incident, a bystander identified in court documents as “DM” was told to move away from police activity. DM walked away, but Newberg pursued him and shoved him against a wall, the indictment said.
“You were told to walk away, it’s a safety issue. You don’t make the rules out here, we do,” Newberg said, according to the document. Newberg coerced an apology from DM before he was released.
“Hey, don’t play me … don’t mess with me,” he told DM, according to the document.
Other interactions summarized in the document reveal an attitude of lording over the Western District. In one February traffic stop, Newberg told a man sitting on a stoop to disperse after a nearby traffic stop but then went after him and took him into custody.
“I’m the sergeant they talk about, now you’ve met me. Sgt. Newberg. Now you know me,” he told the man. “Now we have an understanding, correct?”
Those moments came to light in a review prompted by a May 30 incident involving Lee Dotson, who saw two Baltimore officers force a man to sit on a rain-drenched curb. He decided to speak up.
“That ground wet, man,” Dotson said, as he passed the scene and walked away. Newberg described Dotson as “combative” in initial reports, though footage later released told a radically different story.
Newberg broke into a run, grabbed Dotson by the arm and tried to take him down before another officer tackled the passerby to the pavement and locked handcuffs around his wrists, according to body-cam footage.
The 32-count indictment includes charges related to that incident, Mosby said. Joseph Murtha, Newberg’s attorney following the initial charges, did not respond to a request for comment.
Newberg has been trained in de-escalation, use of force and laws allowing citizens to record police action, the prosecutor’s office said.
The department declined to provide a statement but pointed to Commissioner Harrison’s previous comments.
“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 at a news conference in June after release of the Dotson body-cam footage. “This type of behavior cannot and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Mosby said Newberg’s arrest was “another example of my office’s commitment to share one standard of justice.”
“You’ll face the consequences even if you wear a badge,” she said.
Newberg has remained suspended with pay, Mosby said.
His salary is notable. He was paid $260,775 in the fiscal year ending in June when accounting for overtime — the highest of any city employee.
That period included every incident cited in the indictment.
Marisa Iati contributed to this report.