COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Students and alumni on campus for homecoming weekend say justice was not served for the University of Maryland student who was beaten by two Prince George’s County police officers more than two years ago.
On Friday, a jury found Cpl. James Harrison guilty of second-degree assault, and Cpl. Reginald Baker was acquitted on all counts. A judge dismissed first-degree assault charges against the officers earlier this week.
Harrison faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
The two officers were charged after striking then-student John McKenna III with batons during a rowdy student celebration that followed the Maryland basketball team’s win over Duke in March 2010. McKenna, who was unarmed, suffered a concussion. The incident was captured on video by another student.
Alumni and students who talked with WTOP denied giving their last names for privacy reasons since they disagreed with the court’s decision.
University of Maryland alum Brandon says he thought the officers should have been convicted with a more serious crime.
“(McKenna) was clearly not there to provoke (the officers), and it didn’t warrant all the physical force that was brought upon him, so I think the charges were unreasonably dropped,” Brandon says.
Another alum, Jordan, also disagreed with the verdict.
“To let them off like that is kind of an injustice,” he says, adding that the police were not the only ones at fault. “They were trying to keep the peace, and the kid was being an idiot, but they went a little too far.”
Patsy remembers the scene in downtown College Park getting out of control when the rioting began.
“Students were drunk and disorderly, but I don’t think anyone should be beat on a college campus for celebrating a game,” she says. “I’m a little disappointed in the verdict.”