Departmental charges were dropped yesterday against a county police officer accused of using excessive force while arresting a Glen Burnie man after a wild car chase last July.
"I can't believe that justice was finally done," said Officer Gerald Jones. "This has been going on for a year. It's been very stressful."
The charges against Jones, a four-year department veteran, were leveled by the department's Internal Affairs Unit after it received an anonymous complaint that Jones hit Edward Thomas Crenshaw with a flashlight.
Lt. William Tankersley, chairman of the three-member departmental hearing board, said the internal charges were dropped because there was no evidence that Jones used excessive force.
Crenshaw, of the 400 block of Elwell Court, led police on a high-speed chase through the county on July 23 after he had gotten into a fight with his wife. At about 11:30 p.m., she dialed 911 and told operators her husband had threatened to kill her.
The chase began when Crenshaw refused to stop his Ford pickup when police tried to pull him over near his home. During the chase, which lasted almost two hours, officers threw fire extinguishers and flares at Crenshaw's truck from overpasses.
Officer Michael Soriano testified that after Crenshaw was handcuffed, both he and Crenshaw were hit in what he described as a "swinging" motion with a flashlight. "I didn't see Officer Jones approach him [Crenshaw]," Soriano said.
Soriano said he never saw Jones actually hit Crenshaw. But when Soriano turned around after he was hit, he said he saw Jones standing almost directly behind him holding a flashlight.
Under questioning from Jones' attorney, William Thompson, ,X Soriano said there was jostling and a struggle when Crenshaw pulled up in front of his house and got out of his truck to surrender to police, raising the possibility that Crenshaw could have been hit accidentally in the confusion.
Crenshaw, who is serving a one-year sentence in the County Detention Center on assault and fleeing and eluding charges, also testified that an officer -- he did not know whether it was Jones -- had hit him in the head with a flashlight.
Although Jones did not testify during the hearing, Thompson contended that his client did not know Crenshaw was handcuffed, and when he saw the prisoner struggling he went to help a sergeant subdue him. The flashlight was in Jones' hand and in the confusion, it hit Crenshaw.
Jones was one of three officers charged in the incident. Capt. Richard Smith, the ranking officer on the scene, waived his right to a departmental hearing and was fined $1,000 for violating departmental policy.
Sgt. William Darner is facing departmental charges of failing to supervise his officers. His departmental trial is set for July 14.