Baltimore officer convicted of lying about altercation shown in viral video
Sgt. Welton Simpson falsely claimed that he was spat on during the altercation
Sgt. Welton Simpson was convicted via bench trial on Monday of giving a false statement to law enforcement and misconduct in office.
Simpson claimed that he was spat on by Zayne Abdullah who was attacked by the officer, The Baltimore Sun reported. However, body camera footage does not show the man spitting on him, but instead shows the officer shoving Abdullah and shouting, “Get out of my face!”
The incident occurred last January. In the viral video, Simpson is seen struggling with Abdullah on the ground while the man repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe.” Simpson appears to increase his position on the man’s face and another man interferes attempting to pull the officer off the man.
At the time of the release of the viral video, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she was “disgusted by the blatant assault against the police officer in the video, and my office will work with BPD to bring the perpetrators to justice. Violence has no place, against anyone. Period.”
Following the conviction, Mosby said in a statement, “This conviction demonstrates our commitment to ensuring one standard of justice for all — regardless of one’s race, sex, religion, or occupation,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
Abdullah has filed a civil case against the city. He was previously charged with assaulting Sgt. Simpson, but those charges were later dropped. However, the man spent months in jail during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and he lost his job at a local bakery.
“A government official completely rushed to judgement and completely took the officer’s word for it,” attorney Malcolm P. Ruff said who is representing Abdullah in his civil case. “We’ve seen time and time again that Baltimore City Police officers are raised in a culture where we cannot simply trust them at face value.”
He continued, “Then have Baltimore officials call you a thug and say your behavior is reprehensible without investigating what happened.”
Simpson is scheduled to be sentenced on October 21 and faces up to six months in prison for making false statements. There is no maximum sentence for the misconduct charge.
A 2018 article by The New York Times, and referenced by the Innocence Project noted that lying by police officers is a pervasive issue. The Times uncovered at least 25 instances of New York City police officers giving false testimony, noting, “Police lying raises the likelihood that the innocent end up in jail – and that as juries and judges come to regard the police as less credible, or as cases are dismissed when the lies are discovered, the guilty will go free.”
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