Howard Co. officer arrested in assault of city officer

Off-duty policeman allegedly punched city officer in head during early-morning fight in Canton

April 03, 2011|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

An off-duty Howard County police officer was arrested early Sunday outside a bar in Southeast Baltimore after police say he punched a female city officer in the head, then yelled, "I'm a cop!" as he was handcuffed.

According to a charging document, officers were attempting to disperse the closing-time crowd at Canton Square in the 2900 block of O'Donnell St. at 2 a.m. when someone yelled "[Expletive] the police!" A man named Kasy Williams claimed to be the person who made the profane statement, and a city officer told him to leave the area.

He refused, and the female officer told him he was under arrest, according to the statement. While she was placing handcuffs on Williams, another man, identified as Casey Robert Lechter, a Howard County police officer, reportedly punched her in the head from behind and pushed her away. The police report says a bystander grabbed Lechter and pinned him against a parked vehicle as additional officers arrived at the scene to help.

Police say Lechter yelled, "I'm a cop!" but continued to resist arrest. Williams, meanwhile, suffered a cut to his head and was bleeding heavily, "covering both police officers in his blood," the court document says. Medics were called, and Williams "continued to flail and spray his blood in the area," according to the statement.

Lechter has been charged with two counts of resisting arrest, one count of second-degree assault and one count of disobeying a police officer.

According to the Howard County police website, Lechter served in the Marine Corps Reserves and was deployed for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. His unit recovered thousands of pounds of heroin, and days later some of the unit's soldiers were injured or killed in a bombing.

Howard County police said Lechter has been a probationary officer since August. He has been suspended from duty pending an investigation. No other Howard officers were reported involved in the incident.

Sunday morning's fight, which officials say happened outside Coburn's Tavern, was originally put out over Twitter by the city firefighters union as a stabbing because of the large amount of blood from Williams. Police say no one was stabbed during the altercation.

"The actions described in these charges, if accurate, do not meet the expectations set for members of the Howard County Police Department," the county's police chief, William J. McMahon, said in a statement Sunday afternoon. "I have been briefed and ordered an internal investigation immediately. I have reached out to Commissioner [Frederick H.] Bealefeld [III] to express my concern about Lechter's alleged involvement in this incident."

justin.fenton@baltsun.com



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