Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Sgt. Ethan Newberg has been charged with assault, false imprisonment and misconduct after bodycam video footage showed the officer tackling and arresting a man.
Newberg, 49, has been on the force for 24 years and The Baltimore Sun noted that he was the city's second highest paid employee in 2018. Through his work and overtime, he was able to rake in $243,000. In fact, he made more than the mayor last year.
"That officer is tarnishing the badge that we all wear,” Harrison told The Baltimore Sun on Friday. Newberg has already been suspended without pay but his partner has only been suspended with pay.
“He’s the person in charge of the culture, because he’s the supervisor on the scene. He’s the person who’s supposed to be motivating, coaching, cultivating and developing young subordinates into the right way of policing.”
Footage from the bodycam showed Newberg arresting another man on May 30 and forcing him to sit on the curb. Lee Dotson was walking by and asked the officers why they were leaving the man on the wet sidewalk.
Newberg immediately became enraged and tackled 30-year-old Dotson by the neck, hitting him while dragging him down. His partner joined him in holding him down by the neck and handcuffs him. As the incident unfolded, Dotson asked why he was being arrested.
"Because you don’t know how to act,” Newberg says in front of about eight officers." "Just go to jail and take your charge like a man.”
The other officers allowed Newberg to arrest Dotson and bring him to the station, where he was later released once prosecutors learned of the situation. Newberg initially lied on the police report and said Dotson was impeding his arrest of the other man by "creating a hostile crowd." Once the bodycam video was released, it was clear the officer's account was untrue.
There was even footage of Newberg scolding other officers for questioning his actions toward other bystanders. One officer told him to calm down and he angrily told the cop not to tell him how to run a crime scene.
Baltimore resident Lee Dotson told @BaltimorePolice Sgt. Ethan Newberg to stop harassing a detained Black man. Newburgh tackled him, aggressively handcuffed him and arrested him because he didn’t “know how to act.”
He told off a fellow officer for telling him to calm down. pic.twitter.com/nifvmA3ZUl
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) June 17, 2019
Harrison apologized and said the incident was yet another example of the "horrible" police department culture that he was working to address nearly three months into his tenure as commissioner.
In an effort to be more transparent, he implemented a new police policy that gives him just one week to determine whether to release bodycam footage of a police shooting. He'll work with federal law enforcement, local prosecutors and the Baltimore Office of Civil Rights to determine whether the videos should be released publicly.
Harrison said all charges against Dotson have been dropped, but Dotson was arrested again on June 11 by Baltimore police officers, who again gave conflicting police reports.
Police initially said they arrested him because his license plate was placed "in an unusual manner" and his windows were too tinted. They said they decided to search the car because they smelled marijuana.
They changed their story again, later saying they did not smell or find marijuana and instead found seven grams of crack cocaine as well as "172 individual packages of the drug." He has since been charged with drug possession.