Police are investigating the arrest of an 18-year-old who was standing in the doorway of his Baltimore home after prosecutors determined the apprehension was unwarranted.
A video showing a police officer grabbing the teenager, identified as Tionne Jones, and wrestling him to the ground was widely distributed on social media, prompting criticism of how Baltimore police engage with Black youth. The incident comes just a year after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died in police custody. The six officers involved in his arrest, also determined to be unwarranted by prosecutors, are awaiting trial.
Jones, who can be heard on video telling the lieutenant that he lived at the home and noting the officer did not have a warrant to search the property, was charged with disorderly conduct. The lieutenant then tells Jones he is “not the property owner,” reports the Baltimore Sun. The video then shows another officer, who arrived on the scene in a patrol car, come up the stairs and grab the teen:
Just before he is grabbed, Jones can be heard in the video saying, “This is my house.” The officer who grabs him says, “That don’t matter.”
Police reportedly arrived at the home after they “received calls from the community about issues surrounding activity,” the Baltimore Sun writes. Complaints included concerns about people entering and exiting the home at all hours of the day and “possible drug activity.” The first lieutenant on the scene “observed a person knocking on a door and then a window,” the report says. In the video, you can hear an individual identifying himself as Jones’ cousin, telling another officer he went to the backdoor because no one was answering the front door.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said the department found that criminal charges against Jones “were not appropriate in this situation,” the Baltimore Sun reports.
The department shared that assessment with the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office, who also determined no charges should be brought against the teenager.
From the Baltimore Sun:
Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, said Monday that after “a careful review of the incident,” prosecutors agreed with police “that it was not appropriate to bring charges in this matter.”
India Epps, Jones’ mother, said Monday she could not discuss the incident. “I can’t make any statements at the moment because I am speaking with my attorney,” she said.
The mother of the teenager who videotaped the arrest, Tawanda McLaurin, is a retired police officer who offered an interesting perspective on the disturbing event:
Tawanda McLaurin — a retired Baltimore police officer — said she watched the video and was “very disappointed in Baltimore City” and “ashamed” that she was once part of the same police organization.
She said she teaches her son to respect the police and what officers do for the community, and would come down hard on him if he were in the wrong. But from what she saw in the video, she said, it was the police officers who mishandled the situation.
“I wore the uniform, I did this job, but I treated people as humans,” she said. “I’m hurt. It’s hard to describe.”
McLaurin said her 18-year-old son Antonio felt humiliated by the encounter, and he remarked, “this could have been another Freddie Gray incident.”
A probe into the arrest continues.
SOURCE: Baltimore Sun | VIDEO SOURCE: Facebook | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty