A witness told police that he observed a Baltimore homicide detective and a Baltimore County sheriff's deputy beating a man outside a barbershop last year, contradicting the detective's account and offering some insight into charges that were filed nearly a full year after the incident.
Detective Terry W. Love Jr., through his union attorney, has questioned the timing of second-degree assault charges filed this month against him and Deputy Michael Herring, just days before the statute of limitations was set to expire. Love had filed a report with his supervisors saying that Andre Thomas, 43, had been acting erratically but had run away and could not be located.
The witness, whom authorities did not identify, told police he was driving on York Road when he observed three men attacking the victim and made a U-turn. He parked a few feet away from the men and honked his horn in an attempt to get them to stop striking the man, according to police spokesman Troy Harris.
Harris said the witness stayed with the victim, who was unconscious, until medics came and has identified all three of the men through a photo lineup.
"There's nothing [in the witness statements] to contradict what the victim told us," Harris said.
Love, 31, was reinstated as a homicide detective just weeks before the charges were filed, only to be suspended again pending their outcome.
"Why did it take so long to do this, or better yet, what facts were learned in the last couple weeks that were not known to them in the past 10 months?" said Herbert R. Weiner, an attorney who represented Love in his department hearings. "The timing of things was very mysterious. I would love to hear the explanation."
Attempts to reach Love's criminal attorney, Clarke F. Ahlers, were unsuccessful. Baltimore County Sheriff R. Jay Fisher has not responded to questions about Herring's status.
Love's report, submitted to his supervisor in the homicide unit on the day of the incident, offered a strikingly different account of events. The Examiner reported that Love told his supervisor that Thomas was acting erratically and "was taken to the ground, at which time, he continued to struggle" before breaking free and eluding the officers. Love wrote that he tried to locate Thomas but couldn't.
Police were unable to provide a copy of any 911 calls placed by witnesses; Harris said the record had been purged because of the amount of time that had passed since the incident.
According to documents filed last September, Thomas, who has several arrests on his record and is currently jailed on an unrelated charge, told police that he went into the barbershop looking for one of his brothers and began arguing with barber Bernard Dutton. Thomas left the barbershop and was walking north on York Road when three men began kicking and punching him, the records say. He said he was beaten into unconsciousness and was left in the road.
Dutton was charged last year in connection with the incident, though those charges were later dropped. He told The Baltimore Sun that the officers had "apprehended" a man who entered the barbershop and was acting unruly, and described their actions to the Examiner as "brave."