Prosecutors won't charge police officer

9-year veteran accused of loitering, resisting arrest while off duty Thursday

February 23, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Prosecutors have declined to press charges against a police officer who was arrested in Southwest Baltimore and accused of loitering and resisting arrest.

Thomas Pettiford, a 9-year veteran assigned to the department's central records unit, has been suspended with pay pending an internal inquiry, police said.

Pettiford was off duty and with a group of six or seven men and women in the 2500 block of W. Fairmount Ave. about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Police officers told the group to move along because they were loitering, but Pettiford and others refused to do so, police said. According to police, Pettiford told the officers it was a free country and that he did not have to leave the sidewalk.

Police said Pettiford then yelled at the officers as they drove away, calling one of them a name.

The officers returned and tried to arrest him, but police said Pettiford resisted. The officers eventually handcuffed him to a nearby fence, police said.

Police hoped that city prosecutors would charge Pettiford, 33, with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and loitering.

Prosecutors declined to press charges because they said they could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Each month, prosecutors drop hundreds of cases that stem from loitering arrests for the same reason.

Pettiford could not be reached for comment yesterday. In August 2000 after he injured his neck and shoulder, his police powers were suspended, a routine matter in such instances.

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