Charges dismissed against officer Assault case dropped for lack of evidence

June 11, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore state's attorney's office yesterday dropped assault charges against a city police officer who had been accused of beating a man and shouting racial slurs while off duty last month outside a waterfront bar.

Officer Richard Heymann, 25, had been charged with battery and racial harassment against O'Dell John Lewis, 28, of Columbia. Lewis, who is black, said he had been assaulted by Heymann, who is white, as he walked by the Parrot Island waterfront bar near Fells Point about 1 a.m. May 11.

Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth A. Ritter said that an investigation by the state's attorney's office and the Police Department turned up insufficient evidence to pursue the charges against Heymann and the assault countercharges that Heymann and a third man, Gregory Fritzges, filed against Lewis.

"There wasn't enough evidence after talking with the witnesses to prosecute any of the cases that were filed," Ritter said.

According to court documents, Heymann had been drinking with friends at a bachelor party. They were turned away by the security staff when they tried to get into Parrot Island. Lewis was walking by the bar as security moved the group to the parking lot and Heymann allegedly began yelling racial slurs at him.

Heymann allegedly struck Lewis with a closed fist to his right eye, court documents said. At a news conference after the alleged incident, Lewis said he suffered a fractured right eye and has blurred vision.

Lewis' attorney, William H. Murphy Jr., declined to comment yesterday.

Heymann's attorney, Henry L. Belsky, a lawyer for the city police union, said the state's attorney did the right thing.

"I suspect what the state is saying is we can't prove a case and we're going to walk away from it," Belsky said. "I'm sorry they dismissed the charges against the other guy, but I'm happy my client is vindicated."

Belsky said Heymann still faces possible administrative charges by the department. The departmental investigation will begin now that the criminal charges have been resolved.

"This is like step one of a very aggravating situation against a police officer," Belsky said.

Pub Date: 6/11/96

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