As the coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten the health and very lives of the general public, one police officer has apparently committed what could arguably be called a new form of police brutality.
The Washington Post reports that a white Baltimore police officer was caught on camera intentionally coughing on black people standing outside of Perkins Homes public housing complex. What prompted this attack? A black woman committed the criminal offense of...pointing her cellphone camera at him and essentially saying, “Hello.”
“Hey, Officer Friendly, with the cherry cheeks,” the woman said, only to find that the officer wasn’t so friendly and that all he had in his cheeks were bad intentions.
In video footage that was posted to social media Tuesday, the officer can be seen responding to the woman, not vocally, but by walking past within a few feet of her and other residents appearing to intentionally cough more than 10 times with his mouth uncovered.
“I should call the CDC on his ass and let them know he just did some dirty shit like that,” the woman said as people standing in the courtyard jumped back in disgust and shouted at the officer to get away from them.
The Baltimore Police Department said they have reviewed the video footage and will be launching an internal investigation into the incident, the Baltimore Sun reports.
“After watching the full video, in its entirety, it is not only disturbing, but incomprehensible,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told the Post, “especially considering the high-level of strong and clear guidance that we have provided from the beginning, regarding COVID-19.”
The officer absolutely should be arrested and charged.
Last month, The Root reported that the Justice Department can charge people who intentionally spread coronavirus as terrorists. But recent cases have shown that whether someone actually has the virus or not, even appearing to spread sickness on purpose can get you arrested.
People have been arrested and charged for everything from intentionally coughing on coworkers to licking store shelves. Recently, Texas police arrested a teenager who claimed to be infected and threatened to cough on people at a store. Certainly, we can hold an officer of the law to the same standards of accountability that we would a teenager who only threatened to do what said officer actually did.
According to the Sun, Maryland NAACP president Kobi Little seeks to hold Harrison to his word that the officer will be held accountable for his offenses.
“This incident is emblematic of the force’s failure to respect and build trust with the people of Baltimore. It is hard to justify budget increases and spy planes when the police fail to engage the public with dignity and often are themselves a danger to the public,” Little said.
The identity of the officer has not yet been released.