Officer charged with beating, black man, shouting racial slurs

May 16, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A white Baltimore police officer faces a suspension hearing today in the wake of charges that while off duty early Saturday, he beat up a black man outside a waterfront bar while shouting racial slurs.

Officer Richard Heymann, 25, who has been on the force for nearly four years, was charged in a criminal summons Tuesday with battery and racial harassment and ordered to stand trial June 18.

The victim, O'Dell John Lewis of Columbia, suffered a fractured right eye socket and a possible concussion and might undergo surgery.

Several people witnessed the incident, which occurred about 1 a.m. outside the Parrot Island bar between Little Italy and Fells Point.

"Absolutely, it is not the way the department expects officers to conduct themselves, even while off duty," said Sam Ringgold, a city police spokesman.

Heymann, who is assigned to the Northeastern District, could not be reached for comment. The charges he faces are misdemeanors, meaning he could be suspended with pay after the hearing with a department commander today.

Police said Heymann and the friends he was with had just been kicked out of the club when Lewis walked by in the parking lot, trying to get into the bar. According to court papers filed yesterday, Heymann yelled profanities and racial slurs at Lewis and then beat him.

"Heymann, without apparent provocation except that the victim Lewis was an Afro-American, male struck him in the right eye with his closed fist," according to charging documents written by Detective Garnell W. Green of the internal investigation division.

Court papers filed yesterday say the officer and at least two of his friends were drinking at a bachelor party before they got into a dispute with Parrot Island security guards when they "attempted to gain forced entry into the bar."

Heymann allegedly took out his handcuffs and wrapped them around his fists "in a threatening manner." The security guards -- several of whom were black, Lewis said -- moved the group to the parking lot about the same time Lewis walked by.

Heymann reportedly shouted, "F- - - those n- - - - - -" and then turned toward Lewis and yelled other profanities, according to the court documents.

Police said Heymann hit Lewis in both eyes and that Lewis collapsed.

Other white men then jumped on Lewis and beat him until Parrot Island security guards pulled them off, court documents said.

Pub Date: 5/16/96

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