Baltimore, MD – A Baltimore police officer has been charged with reckless endangerment and misconduct for failing to intervene when a man kicked an unconscious alleged car thief right in front of him.
The incident occurred on Aug. 12, 2020 when Baltimore Police Officer Christopher Nguyen and another officer responded to an assault-in-progress call on Kolb Avenue, The Baltimore Sun reported.
When officers arrived on the scene, they found a 40-year-old Kenneth Somers and an unresponsive, bloody person on the sidewalk.
Officer Nguyen attempted to interview Somers while his partner rendered aid to the victim on the ground, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Police said that Somers told Officer Nguyen that his truck had been stolen four days earlier from his business, Crazy Kenny’s Junk Cars, in the Belair-Edison neighborhood.
Charging documents said that Somers had a tracking device on the stolen truck and tracked it to Kolb Avenue that night.
The complaint said that Somers stepped in front of the truck and confronted the driver, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“Get the [expletive] out of my car,” he told the man, according to charging documents.
The affidavit said the man refused and Somers pulled him out of the truck and began beating him, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Officer Nguyen wrote in the police report that he had attempted to check on the victim on the sidewalk when Somers walked over and began kicking him.
“Hey, can you see that? Can you see? So you can remember me,” Somers bent over and said to the man before he kicked him in the head, according to the criminal complaint.
Charging documents said the other officer threatened Somers with a Taser at that point.
Somers complied and was handcuffed by the officers, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The wounded man was transported to Johns Hopkins University Hospital for treatment.
Charging documents showed that doctors found the beating victim had three stab wounds, The Baltimore Sun reported.
One in his eye, one on the side of his head, and another on his forehead.
Charging documents said officers recovered a pocket knife at the scene, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Somers was charged with attempted first degree murder and a host of other charges.
Prosecutors alleged in the complaint that Officer Nguyen had “failed to secure or properly detain the suspect to protect the victim from any further injury as he investigated the [initial] assault.”
Court documents said prosecutors said Officer Nguyen did unlawfully, knowingly, and corruptly fail to act as required in the performance of, and under the color of, authority of his official duties, WMAR reported.
The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement that Officer Nguyen “created a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to the victim” with his actions.
The 25-year-old Officer Nguyen has been charged with reckless endangerment and misconduct in office in connection with the incident, The Baltimore Sun reported.
If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000 for the reckless endangerment charge, WMAR reported.
There is no statutory maximum sentence for the misconduct in officer charge.
Baltimore Police Department Spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said the department was aware of the charges against Officer Nguyen.
“Our Public Integrity Bureau is continuing its review of this incident and Officer Nguyen’s police powers have been suspended,” Eldridge said.
Officer Nguyen joined the Baltimore Police Department in December of 2018, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“Our Public Trust and Police Integrity Unit continues to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions just as any other prosecutor in our office does when a criminal act is alleged in the community,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said when the charges against the officer were announced, according to WMAR.
“I am proud of the Unit’s work as they ensure accountability, professionalism, and integrity of the badge,” Mosby added.