BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A Baltimore Police Department sergeant trying to arrest a person who spat in his face was kicked by a group of people while he and the suspect were on the ground, police said.
The sergeant was reportedly conducting a business check on Pennsylvania Avenue when the suspect became argumentative and spat in his face. As he tried to arrest the suspect, several other people began kicking the officer.
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Video of the incident shows at least two people kicking the officer in the buttocks. A person in the background can be heard yelling, "Beat him!" Others can be heard laughing.
At a news conference Saturday afternoon, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the department is "absolutely outraged" by the assault.
"What we saw was appalling, it was unnecessary and it was downright criminal," he said.
Harrison said the group not only assaulted the sergeant but attempted to free the suspect.
"I saw people kicking the sergeant who was doing his lawful duty where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to do, and then people are trying to not only kick the sergeant but prevent the lawful arrest of someone who broke the law," Harrison said. "Totally unacceptable, and they will feel the full weight of law enforcement when we catch them."
The officer, identified as Sgt. Simpson, is recovering fine, police said.
Earlier in the day, Harrison released a statement saying Simpson "did nothing to provoke the assault, and the sergeant should be commended for using the appropriate amount of force to apprehend his assailant."
In a statement posted on Twitter, the city's police union said it was "disgusted" by the video and blasted city leaders for their lack of a plan to address crime:
"This morning, we have seen the video circulating that shows one of our Sergeants struggling to subdue a suspect while being assaulted by a crowd of bystanders. Needless to say, we are disgusted by what is shown on the video; however, this is an all too familiar scenario to our members. It is indicative of a broken city that is being led by people who have absolutely no real-time crime plan or, it seems, even know how to formulate one. Crime in Baltimore is out of control and until new leadership is elected and appointed, this lack of respect for the law and those who enforce it will continue and deepen."
In response, Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young hit back, saying FOP President Mike Mancuso and union leadership should spend more time out on the streets and less time in their offices.
"Instead of the FOP President Mancuso and his leadership complaining about everything that we do to try to reduce crime in the city of Baltimore, maybe they should come out and help and walk with these men," Young said. "Maybe they should come out of their offices instead of sitting behind a desk doing nothing and come out here and walk the beat with these officers who they're supposed to be the leaders of."
The mayor also said he feels the city's current crime plan is working.
Saturday morning, Young issued a statement urging those involved to turn themselves in:
"The video circulating of a Baltimore police sergeant being attacked while trying to do his job and make an appropriate arrest is a reminder of the dangers our law enforcement officers face on the job.
"While we're all thankful that the sergeant was not seriously injured, the situation could have easily turned more dangerous. We've arrested one individual and are actively searching for the others seen kicking the sergeant in the video.
"We have a simple message for everyone involved. Do yourselves a favor and surrender. That type of behavior will not be tolerated and each person arrested will be held accountable."
Gov. Hogan also issued a statement about the incident and said that he was, "appalled and disgusted."
Every single day, our police officers put their lives on the line to keep our neighborhoods safe, are the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency, and are the first line of defense for the public against any threat.
I am appalled and disgusted by the vile attack on a Baltimore City Police sergeant. We absolutely will not tolerate assault of any kind on any member of law enforcement. We will pursue and prosecute those who assaulted this officer to the fullest extent of the law.
Our administration is providing unprecedented state resources to combat the crime epidemic in Baltimore, but this requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. It is time we all stand together, and it is time city leaders and legislative leaders join our efforts to take our communities back.
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