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BPD sergeant facing 32-count indictment for alleged pattern of misconduct

A Baltimore police sergeant is accused of a pattern of harassing and forcibly arresting individuals who observed, filmed or commented on police activity over the course of months.

Sgt. Ethan Newberg, a 24-year veteran of the department, was indicted Thursday on 32 counts of second-degree assault, false imprisonment, misconduct in office and a scheme to commit misconduct in office, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said at a press conference.

“Today’s indictment demonstrates yet again my office’s commitment to ensuring one standard of justice for all, regardless of one’s race, sex, religion or even occupation,” she said. “If you break the law, you break the trust that has been given to you by the public. You will face the consequences whether you wear a badge or not.”

Newberg, 49, has been suspended without pay since June, after his body camera captured him in May chasing down and arresting a man who criticized police for placing a suspect on the wet ground. Newberg was charged criminally and the incident prompted prosecutors to launch a review of his interactions with citizens dating back to 2018, according to Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe.

Thursday’s indictment supercedes the pending case against Newberg, according to prosecutors, and includes the May incident as well as eight other incidents that occurred between July 2018 and May 2019. The indictment alleges Newberg acted beyond his authority and demonstrated a pattern of harassing and detaining individuals “for the improper purposes of dominating, intimidating and instilling fear.”

According to the indictment, Newberg told a citizen, “You don’t make the rules out here, we do,” and threatened a bystander’s job by attempting to arrest him and saying he would report the arrest to the man’s employer. During another incident, Newberg seemed to refer to his own reputation, saying: “Do you know me? Have you seen me out here before? Ask around. … Now you know, I’m the sergeant they talk about, now you’ve met me.”

Bledsoe said all of the incidents cited in the indictment were captured on police body cameras. She also said that Newberg had been trained in department policies about citizens’ right to observe and record police activity, as well as in deescalation and use of force policies.

Newberg was paid $243,000 in the last fiscal year, including overtime. Lutherville attorney Joseph Murtha, who is representing Newberg in the case charged earlier this year, was not available for comment Thursday evening.

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