By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.
NAACP Calling For Investigation Of City Police Actions
Without probable cause or provocation, plain clothes officers of the Baltimore Police Department snatched Michael Johnson off the street near a playground. The men in the van with tinted windows ordered the 16 year old to get in. If it were not for the nightsticks in their hands or the badges hanging around their necks, the men resembled a group of thugs. Their actions that followed went with the image.
“I’m going to put my night stick up your ass,” said the officer to young Johnson. After Johnson told him he wasn’t going to do anything to him, the officer jumped out, forcibly grabbed him placing him and him headfirst into the van.
After striking Michael Johnson in the leg with the nightstick, the police officer then asked the 16 year old if he had any money. Johnson said no, but they went through his pockets anyhow. They took his cell phone, threw the battery out the window, and broke the phone in half.
The van then proceeded to the highway. “You think we’re playing, we ought to drop you on I-95.” As they continued, an officer said, “you think you’re a tough guy, you’re going to learn some respect!” Referring to an earlier incident in which one of Johnson's associates was similarly accosted, the driver of the van said “You think your friend went some where, wait till you see where you’re going.”
It is unclear why young Johnson was taken to a Howard County park, his shoes and socks removed, and was forcefully thrown out of the van in the rain. What we do know is, after making his way to a gas station and calling 911 on a payphone, Howard County Police eventually responded, took a report, and drove the youth back to Baltimore City.
For a police department with a reputation of abuse, gross misconduct, poor leadership and oversight, the above allegations are disturbing. They represent the latest examples of unprofessional thug like conduct at the hands of members of the Baltimore Police Department, much of which has been personally experienced and witnessed by this writer.
The incident occurred on 4 May 2009. Despite repeated requests and demands, the State’s Attorneys Office nor the Baltimore Police Department has responded to inquiries or comments from this writer.