Just as one man who was shot by police saw his case go to trial this week, another man was accusing the police of breaking his arm during an arrest outside of a night club.
Thursday morning, just hours before a jury would acquit Keith Davis Jr. in 15 of the 16 charges filed against him after police officers shot him in June 2015 (see: "Trust Gap: Keith Davis Jr.'s trial raises questions about police credibility"), protesters gathered at Power Plant Live! in support of Aaron Winston, who family members claim was beaten by police during an altercation at the Mosaic nightclub early Sunday morning, Feb. 21, around 1:30 a.m.
Mosaic security called police during an altercation at the club. They arrived and escorted a patron outside. Aaron Winston, 24, of the Ashburton neighborhood, followed the officers and his friend outside. He approached one of the officers who he knew from a local pool, Winston's attorney J. Wyndal Gordon explained. “His friend wasn't escorted out in a violent manner,” Gordon said. “[Winston] wanted to see what the problem was and that's when he was grabbed.”
As Winston tried to talk to Officer Smith, a second officer grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground, Gordon said. “They pulled his arm out of the socket and broke his [arm in three places],” he said.
After arriving at the Central District for processing, Winston was taken to University of Maryland Medical Center where the officers were asked to leave by the charge nurse, according to Gordon. Winston's mother, Renee Winston, said that her son's nurse sent a letter to Gordon outlining what she felt was abuse by police. “The nurse said in the letter that they were calling him names and making references to Freddie Gray,” she said at a small Feb. 24 protest for her son held in front of Central Booking. “She insisted that he be uncuffed unless he was being arrested, which at the time he wasn't. I'm very worried for his condition now.”
“Their behavior was atrocious,” Gordon said.
But police told a different story. According to the police report, Winston “physically pulled” at Officer Smith which made Officer Haziminas intervene. Police stated that they directed Winston to get away several times. “Mr. Winston would reply 'stop that's my brother why are you kicking him out!?'" Officer Haziminas wrote in his statement about the incident. “As well Mr. Winston kept yelling at P/O Smith 'stop because I know you.'" The police report says Winston approached “in an aggressive manner with both hands clinched in fists.”
A scuffle ensued, the report says, and both Winston and Haziminas slipped and fell on the wet floor with the officer stating that he landed on top of Winston.
Winston wasn't charged with a crime until two days later on Feb. 23—police usually wait until people are released from the hospital before charging them. Winston has been charged with two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of resisting arrest, failure to obey, obstructing and hindering, and disorderly conduct.
“They didn't even charge him until Internal Affairs got involved,” Gordon said. “The minute they started looking into it, they came and charged him.”
At a press conference on Feb. 26, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the department's Special Investigation Response Team is doing an internal investigation. There were also other aspects of the case that the police are looking into from their end.
“We want to find out why the officers left [Winston] at his bedside at the hospital,” Davis said. “And we're trying to find out exactly what happened with the three officers in the club.”