Baltimore Police Dept. v. Antonin

Baltimore Police Department v. Antonin, No. 443, September Term, 2017 LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS BILL OF RIGHTS - - DUE PROCESS - - RIGHT TO HEARING BOARD BEFORE OFFICERS OF ANOTHER DEPARTMENT - - ACCARDI DOCTRINE - - PREJUDICE REQUIRED. Vehicle being chased by police in Baltimore City veered off the road and crashed. Multiple Baltimore Police Department (“BPD”) officers surrounded the vehicle and two removed the sole occupant from the vehicle and placed him on the ground. Thereafter, Officer Antonin, who had been driving a transport vehicle and was not in the group of officers surrounding the stolen car, walked quickly through the group to the arrestee, slapped him on the head, walked away, and then returned and slapped him on the head several more times. The police chase and events immediately following were videotaped by WBAL-TV and portions, including the slapping incident, were aired that evening. A BPD Deputy Commissioner commented about the incident that night, stating, “We did not like what we saw” and that a personnel action was being commenced immediately. A Use of Force Report was not prepared, as required by a BPD procedural rule, but the Internal Affairs Division (“IAD”) of the BPD was notified early the next morning and began its investigation. Within slightly more than three months after the incident, the IAD had interviewed all the officers involved in the arrest, including two who had witnessed Antonin slap the arrestee. Antonin was charged criminally, at which time the Deputy Commissioner commented that the BPD “will not tolerate the actions of any officer that breaks the law in order to enforce the law.” Eventually Antonin entered an Alford plea to one charge and the others were dismissed. The IAD interviewed him after the criminal charges were resolved. Administrative charges were brought against Antonin. Shortly before his hearing board was scheduled to begin, he filed a written request that the hearing board be composed of officers from another jurisdiction, asserting that BDP officers would not be fair and impartial. The request was denied. During the hearing, he argued that the BPD violated the Accardi doctrine by not following its own rule, to his detriment, and that he was entitled to findings in his favor on that basis. The hearing board rejected that argument as well and found against Antonin. It recommended termination. The Police Commissioner adopted that recommendation and terminated Antonin. Antonin brought an action for judicial review, in which he argued, among other things, that the hearing board had erred by denying his request for a hearing board composed of non-BPD officers and that the BPD had violated the Accardi doctrine. The circuit court ruled in Antonin’s favor on both those issues. The BPD noted this appeal. Held: Circuit court judgment reversed and termination by BPD reinstated. This case stands in contrast to Sewell v. Norris, 148 Md. App. 122 (2002), in which we held that a BPD officer could not be fairly tried by a hearing board composed of BPD officers because, as ...

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