Baltimore bodycam shows an excessive force incident that resulted in an officer charged for assault

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Body-camera footage shows the moments prosecutors say Corporal Zachary Small crossed the line into excessive use of force. The Baltimore County Police Department released that footage today.

We reported last week that Cpl. Small was indicted on charges of assault, reckless endangerment, excessive use of force, and misconduct in office for an incident on September 27 in Baltimore City.

An armed robbery suspect escaped police custody at Johns Hopkins Hospital. While waiting to be transported back to the police precinct, the man was banging his head against the window trying to get officers' attention, telling them he couldn't breathe in the back of the car with all the windows rolled up. He cannot be seen hitting the window in the video, but another officer can be heard saying, 'Stop banging on the door, bruh.' More than a dozen officers were interviewed as witnesses; their accounts, combined with the footage, form the basis for the indictment.

Cpl. Small tells the suspect, 'you break that window, you're gonna get the whole f***ing can of pepper spray.' The suspect repeatedly tells the officer he can't breathe. Cpl. Small responds, 'I don't care,' then attempts to shut the door to the patrol car, but the man's knee is blocking the door. He again tells Cpl. Small he can't breathe, to which Small responds, "Yes you can. There's air in there, stop."

The suspect tells him the air is not on, and says, "Please don't kill me like this." That's when Cpl. Small sprays him in the face with pepper spray. Corporal Small can then be seen shutting the car door, and walking away. Police department policy requires officers to offer water and a towel to someone as soon as possible after pepper spraying them.

When he's told the man is trying to break the window, Cpl. Small runs back and pulls him out of the car and throws him on the ground. He pulls his hair and yanks his head back, telling him, ‘you asked for it. I warned you." The man says all he did was ask for the window to be opened. Cpl. Small tells him he warned him to stop banging on the window, and "that's not the way this works. This isn't f***ing McDonald's. You don't get it your way. You already escaped once, what do you think you're gonna get?" The suspect pleaded with officers not to place him back in the patrol car, because there would still be pepper spray in the air, and it was too hot. Officers put him back in the car and shut the door. A few moments later, an officer can be heard warning the man he's about to get sprayed again if he doesn't stop kicking the window. That happened once more. He asked officers for water, and was told they didn't have any. He was eventually taken back to the Woodlawn Police Precinct.

Baltimore County police officers Jacob Roos and Justin Graham-Moore are also charged with misconduct in office in this case. They're accused of breaking a new law that requires officers to intervene when another officer is using excessive force. Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan Bates says this is the first time his office has charged someone for violating that law.

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