Alison Knezevich The Baltimore Sun
A man whose arm was broken by a Baltimore police officer during an arrest in February has been acquitted of charges.
A jury found Aaron Winston, 25, not guilty Tuesday of second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing and hindering, said his lawyer, J. Wyndal Gordon. A judge dismissed three other charges during the trial in Baltimore Circuit Court.
“I just want to thank God,” said Winston, 25, a longshoreman at the port of Baltimore. “That’s all I can do.”
Winston, his family and the Rev. Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon held a news conference at Gordon’s downtown office Wednesday. They said the incident pointed to problems within the Police Department, and Winston now plans to pursue a lawsuit against police.
Winston was arrested after officers went to the Mosaic Nightclub and Lounge at Power Plant Live in response to a report of a dispute between a man and a woman. In a report on the incident, police alleged that Winston tried to stop officers from escorting the man out, yelled at officers and pushed one.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis acknowledged that an arresting officer broke Winston’s arm but said medical aid was rendered immediately.
On Wednesday, police spokesman T.J. Smith said an internal investigation into the incident is underway. He declined to comment further.
A spokeswoman for the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Winston’s trial lasted two days, and the jury deliberated for about an hour, Gordon said. He said officers gave inconsistent accounts during their testimony.
“Today we’re putting that portion of the case behind us and we’re looking forward to receiving some personal justice,” Gordon said.
Winston’s father, Edward, said the Police Department was “out of control.” He said his son had more than $90,000 in medical bills and can no longer lift more than 3 pounds, leaving him unable to perform many of his job duties.
Winston’s arm was “pulled directly from the socket” and broken in two other places, his attorney said. He was placed in handcuffs after his arm was broken and walked to the Central District Station before being taken to the hospital, Gordon said.
“There needs to be some public accountability,” Gordon said. “I don’t know what’s going on with any internal affairs investigation. We never hear the results of that, and that’s another problem with the system.”
Winston was offered a plea deal in which he would have received probation before judgment, Gordon said, but decided not to take it.
“So many times people charged with these crimes are forced into taking pleas or just feel like they have to take a plea under duress because they’re scared of the outcome,” he said.