WASHINGTON – A current Baltimore City Police Department officer and two retired officers were charged in a six-count federal indictment unsealed today with civil rights and obstruction of justice violations stemming from an April 2004 incident during which officers allegedly assaulted a handcuffed and shackled juvenile with a baton and pool stick, the Justice Department announced.
The indictment alleges that Officer Gregory Mussmacher assaulted the juvenile with a police-issued baton, and that retired Officer Guy Gerstel assaulted the same juvenile with a pool stick. The indictment also charges the officers with obstructing justice by providing false statements about the assault. In addition, the indictment charges Gerstel with making a false statement to the FBI about the case, and charges retired Sergeant Wayne Thompson with obstructing justice by allegedly writing a false statement and by corruptly persuading other officers not to fill out required reports about the incident.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
"The Civil Rights Division takes very seriously any allegation of police misconduct," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. "The Division is committed to prosecuting all cases of official misconduct, and to bringing to justice any officer who abuses the tremendous authority and responsibility entrusted to him or her."
"Most law enforcement officers perform their duties with honor and integrity," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland. "Any police officers who abuse suspects, write false reports and obstruct justice must be held accountable so that citizens can have confidence in law enforcement agencies."
If convicted, the defendants face maximum penalties of 10 years in prison on each of the civil rights charges; 20 years in prison on each of the obstruction charges; and five years in prison on the false statement charge.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Jeffrey Blumberg and Trial Attorney Forrest Christian of the Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.