A Baltimore police officer is under investigation after a video posted to a social media platform found the officer appearing to cough intentionally near residents at the Perkins Homes housing complex in southeast Baltimore.
The officer’s alleged action sparks concern as the nation continues its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
A video that appeared on Instagram and Twitter shows the uniformed officer walking along an opening through the Perkins Homes apartments as he is jeered on by what appears to be residents of the 1600 Bank Street complex. A woman calls out to the white officer as he approaches her on the sidewalk to which he then openly coughs close to her.
The Baltimore Police Department has launched an internal investigation into the incident.
TMZ reports that the officer is a sergeant and remained on active duty as of Tuesday afternoon. It is unknown whether the officer has tested positive for the virus.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison was disturbed by the video.
“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, ” he told The Baltimore Sun Tuesday. ” 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 officer was swiftly condemned on Twitter.
One user wrote, “That is unbelievable! That officer needs to be brought up on charges. What a disgrace. There are healthcare workers putting themselves and their families in harms way to save complete strangers and he is coughing on people. Makes my stomach turn. @BaltimorePolice”
Another added, “He needs to be charged with terrorism and attempted murder. God forbid someone catches it, then his charges should be increased whether or not it was him that did it.”
Since the first case of the virus was detected in the U.S. the BPD has had 305 of its employees quarantined, Fox 45 News reports, with 115 officers still quarantined, according to The Baltimore Sun, which also reports that 12 Baltimore police officers have tested positive for the virus.
Officials also moved to close their Southwest District Saturday for it to be sanitized.
As of Wednesday morning, April 8, Maryland saw its largest daily spike of cases from the virus, an additional 1,158 reported, bringing the total number of cases to 5,529. There have been 124 deaths in Maryland, up by 21 from Tuesday’s number.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order on March 30. Under the order people are allowed to leave home for food, medicine or medical care. Restaurants can continue selling food “on a carryout or drive-through basis.” Banks, liquor stores, gas stations and laundromats also are open. Recreational boating is not an acceptable outdoor activity. People can exercise outside, as long as they maintain six-foot physical distancing.