A veteran Baltimore City SWAT officer is under investigation after an argument over kneeling for the national anthem led to an encounter with police in Carroll County, the WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team has learned.
The argument — and suspicion that the city police officer was impaired while on call and using an SUV carrying SWAT guns — took place just after midnight Saturday in Westminster, according to police.
Westminster police were called to a Denny’s restaurant for disorderly customers. Customers were reported to be arguing over NFL players kneeling for the national anthem, police said.
In the parking lot, Westminster police encountered a customer identified as Bryant Russell. In a report, an officer wrote, “I detected a moderate odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his person and exhaled breath. Further, I noticed his eyes were glassy and bloodshot. His speech was slurred as he talked.”
Police had been told the group had been drinking at a wedding before going to Denny’s.
Russell responded, according to the reports, “He was a Baltimore City police officer. You’re not going to intimidate me or threaten me.”
Westminster police were concerned Russell was going to drive.
“I advised if I observed him operating the vehicle, he would be placed under arrest for driving under the influence, at which time he replied, ‘Don’t threaten me,’ and again advised he was an officer,” according to the Westminster police officer’s report.
The vehicle Russell was using wasn’t his personal car but a black SUV owned by the Police Department and used by SWAT officers.
In their report, police said, “Russell advised there are ‘guns in the vehicle,’ and that he was on call, and could drive the vehicle anywhere in the state,” the report said.
A Baltimore Police Department policy governs the use of so-called take home vehicles: They are to be used only for official duties and responsibilities, and officers who have them can’t exhibit conduct that discredits BPD.
Westminster police did not arrest Russell. They did not see him drive. The officers were sent to another call. When they returned to Denny’s, Russell and the SUV were gone.
A spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department said the incident is under investigation by Internal Affairs.
Russell is not on any type of suspension. It is not known how the city-owned SUV was taken from the parking lot at Denny’s after Westminster police left.
MARATHON, Fla. – Monroe County sheriff’s deputies arrested an intoxicated Marathon woman after she led them on a chase up U.S. Highway 1.
The deputies were called to a McDonald’s at 6:30 a.m. Sunday and witnessed Janice Hastings, 60, blocking traffic in the restaurant’s drive-thru lane.
After a customer and manager asked her to move, Hastings drove her car across the lot and parked across several spots.
When one deputy approached Hastings’ car, the manager told him he believed the woman was intoxicated.
As the deputy attempted to speak with Hastings, she hit the gas, jumped a curb and began driving north on U.S. 1.
Driving at speeds up to 45 mph, Hastings refused to stop with three deputies in pursuit. Another deputy was able to puncture all four of her tires after deploying spikes at an intersection.
However, Hastings kept driving with four flat tires and began fishtailing and endangering other drivers.
The car eventually came to a stop at mile marker 57.2, but Hastings refused to open her car door or window, shouting at officers that she was not drunk.
A passerby told deputies she had seen Hastings leaving J.J.’s Doghouse bar and driving erratically, running through a traffic light and hitting the median several times. The woman made the first call to 911 about Hastings’ driving.
Deputies said Hastings refused to take a sobriety test on the roadside or at the detention center after she was placed under arrest.
While in the detention center, Hastings also bit a deputy when he attempted to remove gum that she refused to spit out of her mouth.
Hastings was arrested on charges of fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving, DUI, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.