Judge finds city officer who fell on prisoner not guilty of assault

January 15, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore Circuit judge found a city police officer not guilty yesterday of assault in a case in which the officer fell on top of a handcuffed man who was yelling expletives at him as the two walked out of court together more than a year ago.

After deliberating for an hour and 20 minutes, Judge Joseph P. McCurdy Jr. found Officer Kevin E. Jones not guilty of second-degree assault, a misdemeanor. On Friday, he found Jarmon not guilty of misconduct, also a misdemeanor. The officer had waived his right to a jury trial, opting for a judge to decide his case.

Jones was charged in an incident from Nov. 9, 2000, in which he landed on inmate William Jarmon, who was handcuffed and in leg irons. Jarmon sustained a bump on the head and cuts on the ankle and wrist after the officer, who weighs 200 pounds, lost his balance and tumbled into him.

The incident occurred outside a courtroom at Southern District Court, in a building that also houses the Southern District police station, where Jones worked.

According to Jones' testimony in the two-day trial, Jarmon cleared his throat as the two walked in a hallway outside the court room, and the officer thought the man was about to spit on him.

Jones lifted his hand to block what he believed was oncoming saliva, which is when he lost his footing, he testified.

Although Jarmon did not spit on Jones, it is common for people in handcuffs to spit on police officers, Jones said. Jarmon testified he never intended to spit on Jones.

Jarmon was in court that day for a preliminary hearing on a dozen drug charges. Jarmon is in jail serving a five-year sentence for charges stemming from a raid in which Jones took part.

In November 2000, Jones, who has worked in the Police Department since 1996, was ordered to turn over his badge and gun, and was placed on administrative duty at the Southern District pending an internal police investigation.

"I'm very satisfied with the verdict," his lawyer, Michael J. Belsky, said yesterday.

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