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Cassidy Jensen

The Baltimore Sun

February 15, 2024

A Baltimore County police officer was charged with first and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office in Baltimore City, according to online court records.

Cpl. Zachary Small, 51, joined the county police department in 2004 and earned about $122,000 last year, according to salary records.

Two other county officers were charged in connection with the same incident last fall. Jacob Roos, 28, who has nine years of service with the county and Justin Graham-Moore, 24, who has two years of service, both face one count of misconduct in office.

Charging documents were unavailable Thursday evening.

Baltimore County FOP Lodge 4 President David Rose said that the September incident stemmed from an incident in which a person tried to escape after county officers took him to a hospital for medical attention he had requested.

Danita Tolson, president of the Baltimore County NAACP, said Baltimore County Police Chief Robert McCullough showed her a video Monday of an incident involving Small that the chief told her was under investigation.

She said the video showed an officer putting a man in the vehicle, then opening the door and pepper-spraying him, as other officers stood by.

“I was totally distraught by it, that it was so many officers that stood around and did nothing,” Tolson said. “The guy pleaded over pleaded over and over and over again for air, that he couldn’t breathe, that he had asthma.”

Randallstown NAACP President Ryan Coleman said he was shown video last of week of the same September incident. In it, an officer pepper-sprayed a suspect in the face inside a police vehicle.

“The video was disturbing in part because the suspect was crying out that he could not breathe, and then he was in a hot car,” Coleman said. “The other thing that was concerning is the fact that he was pepper-sprayed and it didn’t really seem like that was needed at the time. Those things were concerning.”

Coleman said the encounter captured in the video worried him because the person’s comments reminded him of George Floyd, who also told police he couldn’t breathe. However, he praised the county police department for launching an internal investigation.

“The good thing was Baltimore County Police was on top of this,” Coleman said.

A spokesperson for the Baltimore State’s Attorney declined to comment Thursday evening but said Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates would speak about the charges at a press conference Tuesday.

Small’s attorney Brian Thompson said Thursday evening that he will push for a “very speedy trial” because his client has been suspended without pay.

“He maintains that he did his job, he did nothing wrong and we look forward to defending him in court,” Thompson said.

Oana Brooks, the attorney representing both Roos and Graham-Moore, declined to comment.

Baltimore County Police spokesperson Joy Stewart confirmed in an email Thursday that three county officers had pending charges in the city from a September 2023 incident.

“The Baltimore County Police Department is cooperating with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office regarding this matter,” Stewart said.

She did not answer questions about the officers’ employment status.

In a statement posted Thursday on Facebook, the union representing county police officers’ urged both their members and the public to wait until all the facts had been “thoroughly examined.”

“We’re aware of the charges against three of our members involved in an incident in Baltimore City,” Rose said in an interview. “We support our members’ right to due process and fairness that the law requires. We encourage everyone to reserve judgment until all facts are known.”

The Baltimore Sun filed a Maryland Public Information Act request Jan. 29 with the police department for a summary of Small’s internal affairs history. The department has not yet fulfilled that request.

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