Baltimore police department investigates filmed incident with officer coughing near public housing residents amid coronavirus
The video showing a white officer coughing outside a public housing unit without a medical mask on his face kick started alarm within the Baltimore Police Department and the internal investigation over the incident.
The officer is shown passing by several black residents who stand along the sidewalk. Then he starts coughing loudly. The woman can be heard shouting, “black people don’t get that sh**.”
“After watching the full video, in its entirety, it is not only disturbing, but incomprehensible, especially considering the high level of strong and clear guidance that we have provided from the beginning, regarding COVID-19,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said in a statement to multiple media outlets. “Members are always expected to be sensitive and professional to the community, but what we saw in the video is alarming because this pandemic is affecting lives not only nationally, worldwide, but right here in our own police department.”
The video was sent to the police commissioner with a demand to launch the investigation. Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott tweeted:
“COVID-19 is not a joke and this behavior is beyond unacceptable,” Scott said on Twitter. “When you're in public service, it's your duty to treat everyone with respect, especially when we are dealing with both a public health pandemic and a gun violence epidemic. This is not behavior that we want our police officers or any of our public servants to model to residents.
When you're in public service, it's your duty to treat everyone with respect, especially when we are dealing with both a public health pandemic and a gun violence epidemic. This is not behavior that we want our police officers or any of our public servants to model to residents.— Brandon M. Scott (@CouncilPresBMS) April 7, 2020
“Everyone can contract COVID-19 and all of Baltimore has to take this seriously and treat each other with respect. For public servants, this means carrying out duties with safety and compassion at the forefront of all actions," he continued. “For citizens, this means adhering to the advice of public health professionals while following government guidelines issued to save lives.”
The Baltimore Police Department’s Public Integrity Bureau will review the officer’s body camera footage in the frames of the investigation.