A Baltimore police officer struck a man “several times” during a sidewalk encounter Saturday, authorities said, and videos of the incident prompted the city’s interim police commissioner to criticize the officer’s actions and suspend him.
“I have zero tolerance for behavior like I witnessed on the video today,” said a statement from Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle.
One brief video posted on the internet shows an officer throwing at least a half dozen punches in rapid succession. In the video, the punching continued briefly after the man fell to the ground.
As of late Saturday, the 36-second video had been viewed 180,000 times, according to data posted with it.
In the statement, the Baltimore department said the incident occurred about 11:45 a.m. in the 2500 block of Monument Street when two officers encountered the man. The two were on a special anti crime initiative, police said. One of them was acquainted with the man, the police said.
After the first encounter, the officers released the man, then approached him again with a form. When the man was asked for identification, he refused, the police said, and “the situation escalated.”
An officer “struck the man several times” and he was ultimately taken into custody, the police said. Medical treatment was provided for the man’s injuries. The extent of his injuries was not disclosed. He appeared conscious and alert in the video.
In the video, the man appears to make little if any effort to defend himself.
Almost immediately after the incident, the police said, the department began receiving videos of the confrontation.
As a result of the information available, the police said, the officer was suspended at once.
The man encountered by police was not charged with a crime, the police said. They said he was released from custody.
The officer who was suspended the man has been on the force for just over a year, the police said. The other officer who was at the scene was placed on administrative leave, police said.
The police said a thorough investigation is under way.
In his statement, the interim commissioner said he was “deeply concerned by the conduct I witnessed.” He said police had “a responsibility and a duty to control their emotions in the most stressful of situations.”