City Council members criticize assigning homicide detectives in assault on Ravens player

Norris terms move a `fact of life' in a sensitive case, such as attack on McCrary

February 16, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

City Council President Sheila Dixon and several City Council members criticized yesterday the Police Department's decision to assign homicide detectives to investigate the assault of a Baltimore Raven at a downtown nightclub.

"It's inappropriate," Dixon said. "We need to keep the homicide unit focused on homicides. I know we have other officers that could handle this case."

Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary, 31, was struck with a bottle during a fight at the Redwood Trust nightclub about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, police said. McCrary told police that he had been assaulted by several people, including employees of the club, police said.

McCrary, who is 6 feet 4 and 260 pounds, required four stitches to his nose, police said.

Homicide detectives recovered employee records and a computer that controls the nightclub's surveillance cameras, police said. No one has been charged.

Mayor Martin O'Malley referred questions to Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris.

Norris said Col. Robert M. Stanton, who heads the department's detective division, made the decision to assign homicide detectives to the case. "This is the fact of life," he said. "There are cases that are sensitive, a case like this. ... It is not uncommon to put the most experienced detectives on it. It was a wise move."

Homicide detectives handle kidnappings, abductions and other sensitive investigations, police officials said.

Some council members said the department was sending the wrong message. Last year, police investigated more than 8,500 aggravated assaults, and the city recorded 259 homicides.

"I think they are setting themselves up," said Councilman Melvin L. Stukes, a 6th District Democrat. "Everybody else is going to call up and ask for the same thing. This sends a very, very mixed signal to the general public that a bar fight that requires only four stitches is going to [receive] a homicide investigation."

McCrary's lawyer, Hassan Murphy, said it was appropriate for homicide investigators to handle the case because McCrary is a high-profile celebrity.

"It's pretty clear that Michael McCrary was targeted and assaulted because of who he is," Murphy said. "He is someone who has a high and prominent place in our community. ... The city has a vital interest to protect him."

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