The two officers who appeared in a viral video last week have been arrested and each released on $50,000 bond for criminal and police misconduct charges. The video depicts one Baltimore school police officer Saverna Bias looking on as officer Anthony Spence curses, hits and kicks a sixteen-year-old student at REACH Partnership School.
After a cellphone video of the incident reached social and mainstream media, the two officers and the chief of school police Marshall Goodwin were suspended and the Baltimore Police Department, which functions separately from the Baltimore School Police, began its investigation on March 1.
Spence,44, was charged with second-degree felony child abuse, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Officer Saverna, 52, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Their warrants for arrest were issued Tuesday and by Wednesday morning they turned themselves in.
Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith told WBALTV that acting police chief Akil Hamm had requested that the BPD’s Special Investigation Response Team investigate the incident, which led to the department consulting with Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office to prepare and file the charges with the commissioner Tuesday evening.
According to Smith, the city school police will conduct and internal investigation while the Public Integrity Unit of the State’s Attorney’s Office handles the criminal case.
City police investigators said both officers were on duty at the time of the incident. Spence was not attempting to make an arrest and was “not acting in reasonable self-defense,” according to charging documents.
The newspaper also published a witness’ statement that Bias was heard telling Spence, “You need to smack him because he’s got too much mouth,” before the violent encounter began.
Baltimore state senator Bill Ferguson called for the CEO of Baltimore city schools Gregory Thorn to resign or else be fired. Ferguson called it “unacceptable” that the school system did not respond conclusively when asked if the teen in the video was enrolled at the school. The incident happened last Tuesday and the school system did not make the acknowledgment until Friday.
On Wednesday the student’s attorney, Lauren Geisser offered The Baltimore Sun evidence that her client was enrolled at the school. Initially the school system had said that the unidentified teen was not a student at the REACH Partnership School and was actually an “intruder.”
The school system plans to review whether school officers should wear body cams.
The officers will make their first court appearance in April.