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Lead detective in Barnes’ case charged with assault

The lead detective in charge of investigating the disappearance of asphyxiated North Carolina teenager Phylicia Barnes has been charged with two counts of second-degree assault, one count of fourth-degree burglary, and one count of making a false statement to police.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein’s office announced the charges against Baltimore Police Detective Daniel T. Nicholson IV on Monday afternoon.

The charges involve actions that Nicholson allegedly took when his own daughter went missing last year.

According to Monday’s statement, Nicholson went to a home on Bowleys Lane on April 22, 2012, believing his daughter was staying there. The woman who answered the door denied that Nicholson’s daughter was present. Nicholson forced his way into the home, knocking the woman to the ground in the process.

Once inside the home, the officer allegedly pushed a second person to the ground.

The next morning, when he was questioned about the incident by another detective, Nicholson allegedly said he went to the home, knocked on the door, and left when there was no answer.

Nicholson is scheduled to be arraigned on May 20, 2013, at 9:30 a.m.

“I am committed to investigating allegations of police misconduct and prosecuting officers who violate the laws they have sworn to enforce,” Bernstein said in the release.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said in the release that Nicholson is accused of “egregious violations of public trust that will never be tolerated.”

“His actions undermine the very hard work our police officers do every day to make Baltimore safer,” Batts said.

Nicholson’s attorney, Matthew B. Fraling III of Harris Jones & Malone LLC in Baltimore, said Monday that the charges against the detective are “spurious.”

“We maintain his complete innocence,” Fraling said. “He did not do anything at any time that any parent with a missing child would not have done. All of his actions were within the confines of the law.”

The detective’s actions became an issue earlier this year during the prosecution of Michael Maurice Johnson, who was accused of killing Barnes after the teen went missing on a visit to Baltimore in December 2010.

Johnson’s defense attorneys claimed the incident cast doubt on Nicholson’s credibility.

The jury hearing Johnson’s case voted to convict him; however, the trial judge granted a motion for a new trial in March after finding that the prosecution had withheld evidence about a key witness.

Mary M. Lloyd, an attorney at Bates & Garcia LLC who represented Johnson, questioned the timing of the filing of charges.

“It’s a year after [the incident] allegedly happened,” Lloyd said.”It seems coincidental that he is being charged after [Johnson’s] trial.”

Lloyd said she and her colleagues, Ivan J. Bates and Tony Garcia, will not be representing Johnson in his retrial, which is scheduled to begin May 28 in Baltimore City Circuit Court.