Charges against a Maryland student were dropped yesterday after
video was released showing three unprovoked police officers
violently beating him to the ground with batons following a
basketball game last month.
As the video reveals, John McKenna, 21, was celebrating a Maryland
basketball victory on the evening of March 3rd.
As the student walks down the street close to the university's
College Park campus, he is seen waving his arms and dancing
jovially. He then slows, stops and backs away upon seeing several
horse mounted police ahead of him.
McKenna is then set upon and viciously slammed against a brick
wall by dismounted officers in riot gear, who pummel him with
batons, knocking him unconscious according
to his lawyer.
As a hefty officer takes a run up and delivers a forceful blow
to the legs, McKenna, somehow still standing, is hacked to the
The cops then continue to beat McKenna in the head and body
around a dozen times in total as he lays crumpled and motionless,
neither resisting nor able to defend himself.
Watch the video:
Following the incident McKenna was astoundingly charged with
"felonies on suspicion of assaulting officers on horseback
and their mounts".
Papers detailing the charges, sworn by Officer Sean McAleavey,
state that McKenna and another man, Benjamin C. Donat, aged
19, "struck those officers and their horses causing minor
injuries," and that the horses retaliated and injured McKenna
The documents state that the two men were running and screaming
in the middle of the road, encouraging an unruly crowd to form.
Prosecutors dropped the charges upon seeing the video of the
incident, which was shot by another student. It was discovered
by a private investigator working on behalf of McKenna and a
codefendant who was also charged with assault against police.
The video clearly shows McKenna was around six feet away from
the officers on horseback and did nothing to threaten them or
provoke retaliation. It also clearly shows that Donat was not
even involved in the incident, despite the officer's charging
As reported by the
Washington Post, Prince George's prosecutors have
begun a criminal investigation of the three police officers
seen initiating the violence, as well as Officer McAleavey.
One officer has been suspended, with all three likely to be
fired once they have all been identified. Federal investigators
will also be looking at the tape to determine if civil rights
The McKenna family is looking into filing a criminal or civil
"The video shows the charging documents were nothing more
than a cover, a fairy tale they made up to cover for the officers'
misconduct," said Christopher A. Griffiths, a lawyer for
the student. "The video shows gratuitous violence against
a defenseless individual."
"Some of these characters ought to go to jail," McKenna's
family said in a statement to ABC News. "Some ought to
merely be booted off the force, and the remainder should be
properly trained to discover that force is not always necessary,
and brutality is always wrong."
Witnesses have said that they saw several more incidences of
police brutality on the night.
John McKenna suffered multiple contusions all over his body
and a gash to his skull requiring several staples.