Officer says he didn't hear exchange in brutality case

Colleague accused of giving man black eye

March 01, 2001|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

The detective who rode patrol with Baltimore Officer Clyde Rawlins Jr. on July 9 testified yesterday that he didn't hear words exchanged between Rawlins and the man Rawlins is accused of giving a black eye.

Rawlins is on trial on charges of assault, perjury and misconduct in office, stemming from an incident in West Baltimore last summer that ended in the arrest of Larry Nathaniel, 19.

Detective Ray Hunter and Rawlins were patrolling the 1400 block of Argyle St., a known drug area, when they saw Sean Washington make a throwing motion. Suspecting he had discarded illegal drugs, Hunter asked Washington to walk to the patrol car.

Hunter testified that shortly after he began questioning Washington, he heard a commotion and "noticed Mr. Larry Nathaniel trying to back into the house and Officer Rawlins trying to grab him." Hunter testified that he ran to the house in the 1400 block of Argyle St. where Washington and Nathaniel's girlfriend lived.

Inside, Hunter said, he saw Nathaniel on the floor, locking his fists in an attempt to avoid handcuffing and arrest. Hunter said five to seven people in the rowhouse were "yelling and cursing at us" but that he didn't think the officers were being threatened. Nathaniel stopped resisting arrest, Hunter said, when Rawlins threatened to use pepper spray.

Hunter said he never saw Rawlins punch or kick Nathaniel, as Nathaniel and several witnesses allege. Hunter acknowledged Nathaniel's black eye but said, "I don't think Officer Rawlins did anything wrong."

The state called three other witnesses, including Detective Barbara Price of Internal Affairs, who said charging documents prepared by Rawlins initially listed only disorderly conduct. Resisting arrest was added later.

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