06/14/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, USA // Tara Monks // Tara Monks
Baltimore, MD – A Baltimore police officer was found guilty of civil rights infringements and obstruction-of-justice charges in the beating of a 17-year-old male in 2004, as reported by The Baltimore Sun. The conviction was announced by the Justice Department Friday, June 11, 2010.
Officer Gregory M. Mussmacher, 35, faces up to 30 years in prison. Mussmacher was found guilty of submitting false police reports to cover up the assault.
The six-count federal indictment, along with other court records, stated that Benjamin Ruben Rowland, now 23, was arguing with his sister at their residence on Glengyle Avenue in Baltimore when she called the police. Mussmacher, who was among the responding officers, began questioning Rowland, who in turn began taunting the officer.
The officer then took off his badge and service weapon and removed Rowland’s handcuffs to challenge him to a fight. Rowland refused to fight him so Mussmacher sprayed him in the face with pepper-spray.
At the station, Mussmacher hit the restrained teen in his face with a police baton. The blow broke Rowland’s orbital bone and fractured his skull in two places, according to Justice Department officials.
A second officer joined the beating. Officer Guy Gerstel, who is now retired, hit the teen in the back with a pool cue from a recreation room. Gerstel pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and admitted to the assault during the first day of the trial.
Sgt. Wayne Thompson, also retired, was charged with obstructing justice, as he was accused of writing a false statement and persuading other officers not to file reports. He pleaded guilty as well.
In 2005, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge found Mussmacher guilty of misdemeanor assault and misconduct in office. The conviction was overturned on appeal, leading the Justice Department to take over the charges.
In 2007, Rowland filed a civil suit against Mussmacher and Gerstel in U.S. District Court. The issue was settled out of court, according to court records.
Mussmacher’s sentencing is scheduled for September 23, 2010/
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