At a preliminary hearing on Thursday, prosecutors decided to drop a felony child abuse charge against a Baltimore City Schools police officer filmed last month slapping a 16-year-old student through the face and then kicking him.
Filmed at Reach Partnership High School by another student on his cellphone on March 1, the short clip does not show the events proceeding the assault, but the teen can first be seen standing up against a wall.
The footage then proceeds to show Officer Anthony Spence, 44, start smacking the student repeatedly in the face and head.
“Fuck you!” Spence says while delivering the first hard slap.
“Go home then!” he says as he delivers a second more powerful smack to the left side of the teen’s face.
“Get the fuck outta here!” Spence finally says while delivering a third slap, which doesn’t completely connect because the student ducks.
For good measure, the school cop then kicks the boy in the back as he is walking away.
Watch the raw footage:
Spence was charged with felony second-degree child abuse, misdemeanor second-degree assault, and misconduct in office following the incident. The other officer in the footage, Saverna Bias, 52, was also charged with misdemeanor second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
According to arrest warrants, a witness told investigators that Bias was heard telling Spence, “You need to smack him because he’s got too much mouth,” before the attack occurred.
Investigators said both officers were on duty at the time and that Spence was “not acting in reasonable self-defense” during the assault. The two cops turned themselves in after being charged and were released after posting $50,000 bond.
As a result, the officers were placed on administrative leave and an investigation was launched with school and city officials calling what transpired “appalling.”
On Thursday however, Spence entered a not guilty plea to the misdemeanor charges and prosecutors dropped the felony child abuse charge – a charge that anyone not adorn with a shinny badge would surely still be facing in light of such damning video evidence. Bias also entered a not guilty plea to her misdemeanor charges.
“After obtaining all the facts and analyzing them based on Maryland case law, Pope v. State, as well as the applicable criminal statute, we have determined the defendants in these cases did not have temporary care or custody of the victim,” said Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for the City State’s Attorney’s Office. “Therefore the child abuse charges are not appropriate.”
Spence’s attorney, Warren Brown, presented a possible new defense at Thursday’s hearing after other lawyers for the officer had first said he was trying to remove a trespasser from the school.
The teen was latter identified as a student on the school’s roster that had been misidentified, so Brown is now asserting that the boy “assum[ed] the risk of get[ting his] little tail whipped” by spitting on the cop.
The news of the dropped charge comes on the heels of another filmed incident of a school cop brutalizing a student in Texas. In that footage, San Antonio Independent School District police officer Joshua Kehm is seen body-slamming a 12-year-old girl onto a brick walkway.