School Climate & Safety

Report: Baltimore School Officer Filmed Slapping Teen Has Troubled History

By Evie Blad — March 04, 2016 1 min read
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The Baltimore school police officer put on leave this week after a cell phone video captured him slapping and kicking a teen outside of a school was fired from a previous job in law enforcement and has had a protective order issued against him, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The officer, along with another school officer seen in the video, and the Baltimore School Police Chief Marshall Goodwin are all on leave pending the results of internal and criminal investigations, the district announced Wednesday, the day after the video first appeared on Facebook. The video shows the officer, who is black, kicking, slapping, and cursing at a 16-year-old black boy outside of REACH Partnership School in East Baltimore Tuesday. An attorney for the boy says he is a student at the school.

Baltimore schools have not named the officer, but the Sun identified him as Anthony C. Spence. From the paper:

Spence was one of two Baltimore sheriff’s deputies who were fired in 2003 after a wrongful Taser attack that sparked outrage in the Hispanic community, according to reports in The Baltimore Sun at the time. The deputies mistook a Salvadoran construction worker for a bank robber and arrested him during lunchtime in Lexington Market. A third officer shot the construction worker twice with the Taser, injuring him. Spence said at the time he was fired unfairly. In 2011, Spence’s girlfriend, who also was a school police officer, got a protective order against him. According to her account in court records, Spence struck her in the face after an argument outside a Charles Street hair salon. The girlfriend said he tried to prevent her from driving away, and that she grabbed her police radio and called for assistance from school police officers ... The girlfriend got a restraining order requiring Spence to move out of their house and to stay away from her. Nine days later, in late December 2011, she asked that the restraining order be removed.

Civil rights organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, have said the incident in the video is not isolated but part of a larger pattern of brutality against students of color by school-based law enforcement officers.

Local leaders, including mayoral candidate and Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, have called for the officer to be fired.

And State Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Democrat, has suggested Superintendent Gregory Thornton should be fired after school officials could not initially determine whether the teen in the video is a student. On Friday, they said he “is “believed to be a student on the school’s roster,” the Sun reports.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.