Outrage after video shows Baltimore cop 'purposely coughing' at black residents amid coronavirus pandemic
Shortly after the video went viral on social media, the police department released a statement saying the act was 'disturbing'
A shocking video on Instagram has emerged showing a white Baltimore police officer walking towards black residents at a public housing project and coughing on them.
The footage, considering the coronavirus outbreak in the country, sparked widespread outrage, resulting in the launch of an internal investigation into the incident.
The clip shows a uniformed sergeant coughing without covering his mouth as he passes by the woman who records the incident. Reports state that the officer also coughed at two other people living at Perkins Homes in Southeast Baltimore. The video, which is laced with profanity, has been viewed more than 206,000 times as of April 8 morning.
The woman shooting the video can be heard saying: "Ya'll get that s***, black people don't," referring to the deadly novel coronavirus. "Cough your white a** back where you live at," she adds while speaking to the officer.
The sergeant, however, continues to intentionally cough while walking by residents of the area. The woman then yells, "'n*****s don't get that s***. They the ones who get that s***. You need an extra layer of skin," the Daily Mail reported.
As the officer begins to leave, the woman calls out, saying, "Come here coughing like that s*** is cute. I should call the CDC on his a** and let them know he did some dirty a** s***. You ain’t going to infect nobody but your coworkers."
Over a dozen police officers in Baltimore have been tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of April 8, while an additional 115 officers are in self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.
Shortly after the video went viral on social media, and sparked widespread outrage, the Baltimore police department released a statement, saying it was "disturbing".
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, in a statement, said, "After watching the full video, in its entirety, it is not only disturbing but incomprehensible, especially considering the high-level of strong and clear guidance that we have provided from the beginning, regarding COVID-19."
"Members are always expected to be sensitive and professional to the community, but what we saw in the video is alarming because this pandemic is affecting lives not only nationally, worldwide, but right here in our own police department," the commissioner added.
Reports state that the police department's bureau of public integrity has launched an investigation, and has reviewed the video and footage from the camera worn by the sergeant at the time of the incident. The video emerged on social media a day after Baltimore police station reopened following sanitization because an officer tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The Southwest District station tested all its employees and all of its vehicles were sanitized too.
The president of the NAACP Baltimore City Branch, Kobi Little, released a statement calling on Police Chief Harrison to denounce the sergeant's actions. "This officer must immediately be pulled from contact with the public and subsequently held accountable for his actions," Little said. "This incident is emblematic of the Force's failure to respect and build trust with the people of Baltimore. It is hard to justify budget increases and spy planes when the police fail to engage the public with dignity and often are themselves a danger to the public."
The United States, the worst affected country amid the coronavirus pandemic, has nearly 400,000 cases, with nearly 13,000 deaths.