On March 8, 2012, An African-American woman named Makia Smith was recently beaten and arrested by four Baltimore police officers. The officers destroyed her property, brutally grabbed her by the hair, and cruelly beat her before arresting her and impounding her car. Her crime? Filming the officers as they were brutalizing another man.
While she was stuck in traffic in northern Baltimore, Smith glanced out her car window and spied four officers using excessive force to arrest a young man. "What alarmed me the most is that one of the officers was kneeled down, with his knee pressed against the young man's temple," Smith said.
Concerned for the juvenile’s safety, Ms. Smith pulled out her cell phone, opened her car door and stood on the doorsill to film the incident – something which is completely legal and within her rights to do. According to Smith, one of the policemen – Officer Nathan Church – spotted her filming them and ran at her, yelling:
‘So you want to film something, bitch? Film this!’
Frightened, Smith sat back down in her car but Officer Church reached in, grabbed her phone and threw it to the ground, stomping on it for good measure. He then pulled Smith out of her car by her hair and began savagely beating her, saying ‘I should have knocked your teeth out.’
Officers William Pilkerton, Jr., Nathan Ulmer and Kenneth Campbell came over and joined in. The quartet arrested her with excessive force, as Ms. Smith’s two-year-old daughter watched from the backseat of the car.
According to a complaint filed against the officers, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, and the Baltimore Police Department, the officers taunted her about the child. They told Smith that her daughter would be taken away and sent to Social Services. They refused to call Smith’s mother to pick the toddler up. According to the complaint:
“The officers tormented the plaintiff by telling her that her daughter would be taken from her and sent to Social Services. Seeing plaintiff’s distressful reaction to these tormenting threats, they continued.”
Presumably, this went on as Ms. Smith was arrested and taken to jail, where she was charged with assaulting Officer Church and resisting arrest. When the case came to trial, Officer Church skipped both proceedings, forcing prosecutors to drop the charges. However, Ms. Smith had to hire a lawyer and pay to get her car out of impound.
Sadly, this is not the first time that Baltimore police officers have engaged in despicable crimes against civilians of color. Last year, 12 Baltimore citizens were killed due to the excessive use of force by police officers, including Anthony Anderson, Jr. Anderson was publicly beaten to death in front of several witnesses, but the officers who killed him lied about the cause of death and went unpunished by the Baltimore Police Department, despite the protests of community leaders. Since the killing of Anderson, scores of witnesses have come forward with horrific stories of police brutality toward them and their loved ones: Illegal strip searches of women, kidnapping of children and youth, racial profiling and other physical abuse are only a few of the crimes reported.
We have had enough of this!
Enough of being victimized by those who took an oath to protect us! Enough of letting criminals off scot-free because of their occupation! Enough of having our rights as American citizens trampled on by those who are “above the law”! Enough of having brothers, fathers, sisters, and mothers tormented or killed because of the color of their skin!
We will not allow such disgusting behavior in our police force any longer. For the sake of justice, the Baltimore Police Department must immediately discharge these four officers and pursue a criminal investigation against them.
Officers Nathan Church, William Pilkerton, Jr., Nathan Ulmer, and Kenneth Campbell physically and verbally assaulted Ms. Smith, within the view of Smith's two-year-old daughter. They refused to call Smith's mother to pick the toddler up, instead taunting Smith that her child would be sent to Social Services. Smith was arrested and charged with assaulting Officer Church and resisting arrest. When the case came to trial, Officer Church skipped both proceedings, forcing prosecutors to drop the charges. However, Ms. Smith had to hire a lawyer and pay to get her car out of impound.
Not only did these four officers violate their oath to "protect and serve", they violated Ms. Smith's 1st, 4th, and 8th Amendment rights. They are a disgrace to your department, and to police officers everywhere.
I have had enough of this despicable behavior by those in the police force, and refuse to allow it any longer. For the sake of justice, the Baltimore Police Department must immediately discharge officers Church, Pilkerton, Ulmer, and Campbell, and pursue a criminal investigation against them.