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FBI talks to Prince George’s County officers about beating

WASHINGTON — The FBI was interviewing dozens of Prince George’s County officers on Friday about a videotape showing three officers in riot gear beating a University of Maryland student during a rowdy celebration after a basketball game.

Agents are interviewing about 40 officers, but no arrests have been made and no search warrants are being executed, FBI spokesman Richard Wolf said.

Wolf would not say if the three officers suspended after the incident were among those being interviewed.

County police union president Vince Canales said the officers being interviewed at their homes Thursday night and Friday morning were all rank-and-file officers and did not include the three officers suspended after the incident. From what he has heard from officers, the interviews have focused on details about where each officer was that night and what their roles were.

“They’re very simple knock-and-talk interviews about what occurred,” he said. “They have been cooperative, providing whatever insight they can.”

Chief Roberto Hylton said a deputy chief told him Thursday night that FBI agents were knocking on the doors of several county officers to interview them about the events that led to the beating of student John McKenna, one of dozens arrested that night.

In a video taken by a student from a dorm room window after Maryland’s victory over Duke in March, McKenna half-jogs, half-dances down the sidewalk and stops when he is cornered by two officers on horseback.

Then, three officers in riot gear run toward McKenna, slam him into a wall and beat him with batons. In the video, the beating appears unprovoked.

County police arrested 28 people that night, but charges were later dropped against several of them. At least one student was acquitted for lack of evidence.

County executive-elect Rushern Baker told The Associated Press on Friday that the FBI had briefed him about the ongoing corruption probe in the county but that he had not been told about the latest round of police officer interviews.

“They want to cooperate with the incoming administration, and I assured them that we would be cooperative,” Baker said. “We cannot let the investigation stop us from delivering for the citizens.”

Outgoing Democratic County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife, incoming councilwoman Leslie Johnson, were arrested last month on federal charges including bribery, conspiracy and extortion involving real estate developers. The following week, nine more people were indicted, including three county police officers. Two officers were charged with conspiring to commit extortion in a scheme to sell untaxed cigarettes and alcohol. Those indictments did not mention Johnson, but federal prosecutors have said they are related.

Baker would not confirm rumors that he planned to replace Hylton, the police chief. But he said he wants to improve officer morale.

“I want to make sure that they know, especially with all this going on, that their county executive understands that the majority of those folks who put on uniforms and go to work every day are doing a great job,” Baker said. “I want to make sure that’s also permeating from the police chief.”

The Washington Post reported this week that at least 46 Prince George’s officers are either suspended or have been assigned to administrative duties for alleged misconduct.

One comment

  1. Excelentisimo:Roberto Hylton
    yo creo fuertemente en la diciplina que impuso a sus oficiales y que es menester en que ponga un alto a las autoridades corruptas porque los hay tambien se levantaran encontra de los oficiales honestos,justos y honrados para destituirlo pero siempre lleve en su corazon lo bueno tiene su recompensa buena y lo malo tiene su recompensa mala,ahi tiene el ejemplo con esos oficiales.los malos siempre lo criticaran y estaran encontra de usted pero esfuercese y sea muy valiente no tema ni desmaye por que Dios estara contigo.