Officer indicted under Md.bias law Lauded patrolman is first case to involve hate-crime statute

September 22, 1995|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF Staff writer Dan Thanh Dang contributed to this article.

An award-winning Baltimore County police officer has been indicted under Maryland's hate-crime statute -- charged with uttering racial epithets while punching and kicking a suspect at the Essex Precinct in July.

Officer William R. Goodman Jr., 34, a bicycle patrolman with nine years on the force, also was accused of two other misdemeanor counts -- battery and misconduct in office -- in the indictment this week by a Baltimore County grand jury.

"There has not been another case like this in Baltimore County," Deputy State's Attorney Sue A. Schenning said yesterday, while the lawyer representing Officer Goodman knew of none against police officers anywhere in Maryland.

Capt. Brian A. Uppercue, a police spokesman, said Officer Goodman, who is white, was working the Essex Precinct desk on July 29 when a cadet had trouble booking a black man, Melvin Maddox. Officer Goodman is alleged to have intervened and pushed Mr. Maddox into a wall, causing him to fall.

While Mr. Maddox was on the floor, he was kicked and racial epithets were shouted at him, Captain Uppercue said, adding that a fellow officer and supervisor heard the altercation and reported it.

Mr. Maddox, 24, of the 1400 block of Hadwick Dr. was treated at Franklin Square Hospital for "an injury to his kidney area that was consistent with being kicked," Captain Uppercue said.

Ms. Schenning said Mr. Maddox had been arrested for failure to appear in court on a drug charge, adding, "Mr. Maddox has not been convicted. He is the victim in the case indicted."

Mr. Maddox could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The prosecutor said she has handled cases involving charges against police officers for a decade, and none has involved the 1988 racial hate-crime statute. The charge can be added, she said, if the motivation for an alleged crime is race, religion or ethnicity.

Through his attorney, Officer Goodman denied beating Mr. Maddox or uttering epithets. The department said he was suspended with pay Aug. 10, and remains free on personal recognizance.

The lawyer, Henry L. Belsky, who has represented police officers in the Baltimore area for 15 years, noted news articles about Officer Goodman's honors and community service in The Sun and neighborhood papers. Stories noted his friendliness while on patrol and that he took time to talk with neighborhood children.

A photograph accompanying one article shows the officer surrounded by African-American children. He had challenged them to improve their grades -- and paid off by taking a dozen of them to the National Aquarium.

Since 1989, Mr. Belsky said, Officer Goodman has won awards (( and nominations within the department and in his precinct for officer of the year and month. He received a certificate of appreciation for apprehending an armed robber, and a governor's certificate of merit for crime prevention.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers gave him two awards for drunken driving enforcement; he was commended for promoting seat belt safety; and the Catonsville Veterans of Foreign Wars named him Police Officer of the Year.

"The most offensive thing," Mr. Belsky said, "is that an officer with the community service that he has to both the black and white community of Essex should be charged under the hate-crime statute."

Capt. James W. Johnson, Essex Precinct operations commander, said the incident remains under investigation. He said the case against Officer Goodman "was departmentally initiated by officers and supervisors who worked in the precinct and with Officer Goodman."

"Nobody is above the law and we demand all our personnel to adhere to the values of the organization, which are integrity, fairness and service. Officer Goodman, like any other person, is entitled to a complete and thorough investigation, as well as a fair and impartial trial," he said. "We are committed to reducing and addressing racial hatred."

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