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Baltimore cops accused of assaulting suspect during drug arrest

Due process. It’s a concept at the core of criminal law in the United States. Everyone who is accused of a crime, no matter how serious, has a right to due process. That means police officers are legally obliged to follow certain rules pertaining to search and seizure, as well as to the very nuts and bolts of making an arrest. Due process also means that defendants have a right to fight criminal charges in a court of law.

In fact, when it’s believed that authorities have violated the rights of the accused, the cops can also be charged with a crime. That is the case with two Baltimore officers who are facing assault charges stemming from a drug arrest last year. As it turned out, the drug charges against the 32-year-old defendant were eventually dropped, but the two officers have since been accused of second-degree assault, along with other violations related to obstructing an investigation.

In the initial drug arrest, police were scoping out a scene in which they claim the 32-year-old suspect was distributing drugs. Authorities say the man saw an unmarked police vehicle approaching, so he ran.

One of the officers now accused of assault wasn’t even on duty at the time, but he did show up at his girlfriend’s apartment where, oddly, the drug suspect was hiding after he fled.

A series of events unfolded during which the suspect was removed from the woman’s home, taken back inside the residence to apologize to her, and then allegedly assaulted by the off-duty boyfriend and another cop.

The initial arrest report only indicated that a “scuffle” had occurred and that the suspect’s shirt was ripped. Prosecutors clearly have a different idea of what happened.

This story illustrates a fact that anyone accused of a crime should realize: police officers make mistakes. An aggressive criminal defense will analyze the circumstances of an arrest and, if appropriate, show in court that a defendant’s rights were violated.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Two Baltimore officers charged with assaulting drug suspect,” Justin Fenton, Oct. 18, 2012

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