UM officials produce video of student’s beating

Footage found by campus police officer

April 21, 2010|By Ruben Castaneda, The Washington Post

University of Maryland officials produced video footage Wednesday from a school-operated camera that had been subpoenaed by attorneys for a student who was beaten by Prince George's County police, images that officials originally said they could not find.

Lawyers for the student thought footage could be crucial in filling in the blanks of what happened March 3, when students took to the streets after the university's men's basketball team defeated Duke. More than two dozen people were arrested after confrontations with police.

But another video of the incident, taken by a student, shows three county police officers in riot gear beating UM student John J. McKenna, 21. County police charged McKenna and another student, Benjamin C. Donat, 19, with assaulting mounted officers with the Maryland-National Capital Park Police and their horses. Those charges were dropped just before the student video surfaced publicly and was shown by news organizations around the world.

Paul Dillon, a spokesman for the campus Department of Public Safety, said officials did not intentionally try to hide the footage taken the evening of March 3 and early the next morning. Three minutes are missing from the requested video because of a technician's error, Dillon said.

"A mistake was made, and we missed 90 minutes of video," Dillon said following a news briefing at the campus on College Park.

Terrell N. Roberts III, a lawyer for the student, was not satisfied: "I was left with many questions as to why the 90 minutes was not provided to us in the first place, and I still don't understand why this three-minute gap exists," said Roberts, who attended the news briefing.

Roberts is one of the lawyers representing McKenna and Donat. The university received a subpoena from McKenna's attorneys March 9, Dillon said. Officials did not find relevant video footage until Tuesday afternoon, when a campus police lieutenant, who had requested video footage to investigate wrongdoing by students, looked and found he had footage from the street where the McKenna incident occurred, Dillon said. That footage was turned over to McKenna's attorneys yesterday.

The FBI, the state's attorney's office and the Police Department are investigating the McKenna beating. Maryland State Police, at the request of university officials, are investigating why the surveillance video was not immediately found.

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