Officer denies beating, saying racial epithets to prisoner

September 27, 1996|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Police Officer William R. Goodman testified yesterday he didn't beat or hurl racial epithets at an Essex drug dealer last year, but said he tapped the man lightly on the cheeks at the time of the incident because he thought the man was intoxicated.

And Goodman -- a 10-year police veteran on trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court charged with battery and with a hate crime -- acknowledged that he cursed at Melvin Maddox during the July 29, 1995 incident.

"Sometimes, ma'am, you have to lower yourself so they can understand you," he told Baltimore County Assistant State's Attorney Sue A. Schenning. "You've got to use your voice, and sometimes that means cussing."

Goodman's testimony came on the last day of his trial on charges of kicking, slapping, and punching Maddox, 25, and hurling racial epithets at him when Maddox allegedly resisted being fingerprinted at the Essex precinct that day.

Henry L. Belsky, a lawyer who began his defense with the apparent intention of shifting blame from Goodman to Officer Jason Keller, a 22-year-old who was a cadet working that night.

Earlier in the trial Keller demonstrated the way he said he saw Goodman kick Maddox and said Goodman yelled a racial epithet at Maddox.

Bridget Robinson, a 911 dispatch operator and friend of Goodman's, testified that Keller once told her he wanted to be assigned to the Essex precinct because "when you get frustrated, you get to pound on people." But she acknowledged vTC under cross-examination that she never told any superiors about the conversation.

In his testimony, Goodman said he arrived in the fingerprinting room to find "a black male laying on his back, with Keller bent at the hips over him."

Goodman, 35, testified that he struck Maddox's cheeks lightly -- "like putting on Skin Bracer" -- to get his attention because Maddox was faking unconsciousness, but that he used no excessive force and no racial epithets.

He also said Officer David Swinney of the Essex precinct, who testified he had heard Goodman use a racial epithet and heard a slap sound, told him he was "threatened" by internal affairs officers into testifying against him.

The jury is expected to begin to deliberate today.

Pub Date: 9/27/96

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