A Baltimore Police officer was suspended this for repeatedly punching a man in the face – over two months ago.
Now that video of Officer Vincent Cosom’s criminal attack on Kollin Truss has reached the court of public opinion – a tribunal currently inflamed in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri – Cosom’s employers in the Baltimore Police Department and City Hall are scrambling to cover their asses.
“Much like the public, I was shocked,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts. “I’m outraged. I’m disgusted by what I saw by an employee of the Baltimore Police Department. Nothing that I saw on that video is defensible, nor should it be defensible. And most importantly it’s unacceptable and will not be tolerated within this organization.”
The released video reveals a shocking scene. Kollin Truss was walking out of a convenience store with his girlfriend Stephanie Coleman when Officer Cosom aggressively speaks to Truss and pushes Coleman out of the way, facing Truss like an MMA fighter ready to do battle. Coleman steps between Cosom and Truss, and Truss walks away from the officer.
Officer Cosom, however, follows the pair down the street, and as soon as Truss’s attention is diverted by some pedestrians blocking Truss’s view, Cosom moves around the pedestrians to strike Truss in the face. Cosom continued his sneak attack, repeatedly punching Truss in the face while another officer assaults Coleman, pushing her away from her boyfriend, who was then arrested by an officer – not Cosom – and charged with assault and other undisclosed offenses.
The case was dropped when a prosecutor saw the tape and found that it contradicted Cosom’s report, which stated the following:
“Me and the male got into a physical altercation due to me being in fear of my safety and I received a punch to the body.”
The prosecutor dropping the charges against Truss is a no-brainer, but his review of the videotape should have immediately led to criminal charges – against Cosom and the other officers. Cosom committed assault and battery against both Truss and Coleman, but instead of instantly facing criminal charges and being fired from the police force, Cosom is currently on paid administrative leave.
While Deputy State’s Attorney Elizabeth Embry said that there is a criminal investigation, and Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said evidence is being gathered for a grand jury, Truss’ attorney, Ivan J. Bates said his client was not contacted by prosecutors or police to arrange an interview until Monday.
“If it wasn’t for cameras, this would be another one swept under the carpet,” stated PINAC Founder Carlos Miller.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said
…the department has been sluggish in its handling of the case. He said the alert from prosecutors reached a middle manager who should have done more to inform senior department officials.
“This officer should have been removed from the field immediately,” Batts said. “I should have been notified immediately.”
Blaming middle management is an easy excuse that takes Batts off the hook. So what punishment will there be for the “middle manager” who failed to take action on Cosom’s blatant assault and batteries? And more importantly, what proactive action is Batts or any other police commissioner taking to review the records of officers on the force and remove the so-called “bad apples”? After Truss was beaten by Cosom, two other officers assisted in arresting him – where is their punishment?
Truss is now filing the only remedy left to him – he is suing Cosom for $5 million, and a judgment against the officer may ultimately be paid by the City of Baltimore. For her part, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she wanted to change the state Law Enforcement Bill of Rights – which gives police officers a trial board process in front of three police employees and four vetos of who can sit on the board before they can be fired – but wouldn’t say whether Cosum should be fired.
For all mayors across the country, and all PINAC readers voting to elect them: any police officer that commits criminal acts and potentially costs your city millions of dollars should be fired – not sent on a paid vacation.