LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — The defense has rested and closing arguments are expected Friday in the trial of two Prince George’s County police officers accused of beating a University of Maryland student during a frenzied celebration in 2010.
Corporal James Harrison took the stand in his own defense on Thursday and admits to striking John McKenna seven or eight times during the incident after Maryland’s basketball team defeated Duke. However, Harrison is adamant he never struck the student in the head.
The officer says there was a riot environment with rowdy students displaying intimidating behavior. Some where throwing bottles.
Harrison testified he initially believed McKenna was on PCP or another drug as he approached the police line. The officer says the student was hit because he would not let go of something in his hand. Police were later able to determine it was a phone.
Harrison has admitted that he never filled out a use of force report, a formality for officers involved in physical altercations. He also admitted to initially lying to Internal Affairs investigators about what happened. He says he told the truth the following day.
The accused officer, who was on the verge of tears at points, says he lied because he was worried about providing for his family after the Chief of Police said he was ready to fire the cops involved in the assault.
Several character witnesses have taken the stand in Harrison’s defense. They testified Harrison is a man of faith and has good character.
The officer called himself a humanitarian who loves people.