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School Cops Who Assaulted Baltimore Teen Charged; Highlights Speedy Arrest of Non-White Officers

This photo provided by the Baltimore Police shows Anthony Spence. Spence and Saverna Bias, two Baltimore schools police officers, have been charged after cellphone video surfaced showing one of them slapping and kicking a teen at a school while a second officer stood by. Both are charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Spence is also charged with second-degree child abuse. (Baltimore Police via AP)
Officers Anthony Spence and Saverna Bias, Photo by Baltimore Police via AP

Two Baltimore school cops have been charged after they were caught on tape slapping a teen in a disciplinary incident at the REACH Partnership School.

Both officers are charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office within a week of the offense.

According to the Associated Press, the two officers turned themselves in Tuesday. The Baltimore city police announced this Wednesday morning in a press release immediately after.

The officers involved, Anthony Spence, 44, and Saverna Bias, 53,  slapped, physically assaulted and cussed at an unidentified Black teen. The entire incident was caught on tape by a fellow student and went viral last week across various media platforms. Video footage showed that Spence was the main provocateur and that Bias stood there  observing the entire event.

“Right now, I’m the bad guy,” Spence said.

Details about the incident have yet to be released by either party involved. No one knows for sure what prompted the violent interaction. Reports say the teen was an intruder at REACH and that the officers responded. The student’s lawyer, Lauren Geisser, said that he was a student and on the “roster.”

Spence and Bias were school police separate from Baltimore city police, thus there are two separate investigations pending.

Spence reached out to the Associated Press to set the record straight.

According to his interview, “Spence said last week that he wouldn’t discuss the matter because the news media would ‘twist’ the story.”

This incident is reminiscent of last year’s assault at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, where a white officer, Ben Fields, manhandled a Black teenage girl who was dealing with family issues at the time.

Fields was not immediately arrested after the incident, and he did not turn himself in. Conservative pundits and his supporters blamed the victim for being assaulted, even though Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters in an October press conference, “That is not a proper technique and should not be used by law enforcement.”

According to South Carolina law, what Deputy Ben Fields did to a young school girl, at a bare minimum, was third-degree assault and battery, and is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Fields was fired but faced no charges, even though there should have been real repercussions according to the state’s laws.

The Baltimore school cops and Fields were equally wrong and went counter to their training, but the punishment was not the same. In many instances, police officers of color face the full power of the justice system while white officers get a slap on the wrist and multiple media appearances.

According to the AP, the two officers were put on paid administrative leave during the pending investigations.

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