Five Correctional Officers Indicted for Alleged Excessive Force In January Central Booking Incident

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Towson, MD (May 2, 2011)---Five correctional officers, including an acting major, were indicted Friday by a Baltimore grand jury for their alleged roles in the use of unjustified, excessive force on a female detainee at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center (BCBIC) in January. All five are charged with first degree assault. Eight correctional officers were placed on administrative leave in the wake of the incident, and the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Internal Investigative Unit (IIU) has been working with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office in the ensuing months on the criminal case. (The State’s Attorney’s Office will handle inquiries relating to their part in the criminal probe.)

Thanks in part to tips called into the Central Booking hotline, Maryland Division of Pretrial Detention and Services (DPDS) and IIU investigators had identified suspects within hours of the incident, suspending them from duty and notifying the State’s Attorney, which began a criminal investigation that eventually led to grand jury involvement. Three of the officers placed on administrative leave by DPSCS have not been criminally charged, but all eight are pending termination.

“We acted swiftly because we will not tolerate any unjustified use of force against detainees, period,” said Wendell France, Commissioner of Pretrial which operates BCBIC. “There are proper rules of engagement when using appropriate force dealing with detainees. We expect our officers to apply these rules in a professional manner and only when necessary.”

The indicted officers were all assigned to the booking area. They are:

   Larry Morris, Acting Major, 42 16 years of service
   Kimberly Livingston, 31 9 years of service
   Shannon Rivies, 24 5 years of service
   Aleesha Edmond, 22 3 years of service
   Terrence Taylor, 23 3 years of service

The incident in question began early on a Saturday morning (January 8), when a 26-year old woman brought into Central Booking on disorderly conduct and other charges was being processed. Investigators believe that a number of correctional officers used unnecessary and inappropriate force against the woman multiple times, and in several different locations. The woman was eventually taken to a local hospital, and was released with no serious injuries. The incident was never reported by on-duty staff----a breech in proper procedure---including the shift commander, a 16-year veteran who is one of the individuals indicted.

“We cannot and will not tolerate this type of behavior, here or in any of our correctional divisions,” said DPSCS Secretary Gary Maynard, whose Department also includes state prisons and pre-release centers in the Division of Correction and Patuxent Institution, a maximum-security treatment prison. “Even in a very difficult environment, correctional staff must always act with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.”

The Division of Pretrial Detention and Services includes Central Booking---one of the busiest booking facilities in the nation-- and the Baltimore City Detention Center. DPDS employs approximately 1,500 people. At any given time, the facilities house between three and four thousand people awaiting trial in the City of Baltimore, and a few inmates sentenced to terms in the Division of Correction.