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February 28, 2011

Judge upholds firing cop in Harbor skateboard incident

A Circut Court judge this morning upheld the firing of a Baltimore police officer who berated and pushed a 14-year-old skateboarder during a confrontation in the Inner Harbor in 2007. The ruling came after about an hour of arguments presented by an attorney for the police union and for the city.

The officer's lawyer argued that the police commissioner went beyond what was reasonable when he rejected an internal trial board recommendation that Rivieri be suspended for six days and lose leave time.

The trial board had found the officer not guilty of the most serious charges that included using excessive force and language. Rivieri was found guilty only of failing to write a police report, which his attorney described as a minor infraction. The attorney argued that the commissioner based his decision on parts issues that his client had been found not guilty of doing -- in essence conduct seen on the video.

But the city's lawyer argued that the failing to write a police report is not a minor infraction, and that Rivieri's failure to properly document his encounter with the youth was tantamount to covering up his use of force against a teenager.

There'll be more details later on the web and in The Sun's print edition.



"I am ex-officer Rivieri"..what a moron.

Just another dumb baltimoron cop. Maybe he should ride around on a bike and not a little car to get some exercise.

Wonder what happened to him in his childhood. Must have been bullied.

This video just infuriates me every time I see it. Baltimore City policing at some of its worst - a clearly young kid doing nothing more than this officer's conduct reasonable for an "offense" like skateboarding in an unauthorized area? Why it took so long to can this blow-hard, authoritative control freak is beyond me. Why he ever had a badge to begin with is also beyond me. Anyone who is surprised by the latest scandal to hit the Baltimore Police Department - cops skimming money in car-towing scheme - is clueless as to just how corrupt a good percentage of the department is, and just how low the level of professionalism of most of the officers continues to be.

As long as he's off the force, I say great. Most cops I know are on a power trip. Firemen are the true heroes.

Can we call you dood now?

The ex-policeman clearly was out of control and should not have been running loose with a gun and a badge.

Unfortunately this is a very rare occasion where a cop didn't get away with abusing his authority and/or breaking the law. All too often they are not held to any account for their behavior.

The punishment is too severe for the crime. Compare it to the police officers who took money from the towing company in return for referring distressed clients. Yelling at a surly teenager is not worthy of termination. Instead, the police department should have enrolled Officer Rivieri in a Dale Carnegie class to learn how to talk to surly teenagers.
Or how about police officer Tshamba who had the DUI and an off-duty shooting incident but was allowed to remain on the police force. Only after the SECOND off-duty gun incident in which he killed a bystander at a nightclub, was he terminated. In light of Tshamba's violations, how is scolding a teenager in any way comparable?
Officer Rivieri was well-liked by the residents of the neighborhood in his usual patrol. The loss is theirs.

I am sorry but am I the only one that is forgetting the disrespect of the officer. Yes, he was accessive but shouldn't this teenager know how to address an adult much less an officer of the law?

Kids these days seem to lack a lot of respect for their teachers and the officers of the law. So this kid gets a pat on the back for being disrespectful to a police officer and a police officer who has never been in trouble before looses his job. Nice.

I'm sure he'll make a fine mall cop.

While Baltimore PD is to be commended for acting in the public's best interest by firing a bully like ex-officer Rivieri, the job action is not enough. Mr. Rivieri was clearly guilty of assault, battery, and theft and should be prosecuted for these crimes.

Well I see I am in the minority here. My son is a cop and dealing with smart mouth
teens is just one of the things these police officers have to deal every day they work. I have nothing but admiration for these officers and the jobs they do. Sure, there are a few bad apples but that can be said for every profession. Put your life on the line every day and see how much patience you much much civility when you are dealing with the dreggs of society.
You people dont have a clue what a cop puts up with.

something is seriously wrong with this country when someone charged with protecting public safety is allowed to get that fat.

Wow, a cop gets fired for yelling at a kid that has parents who taught him nothing about respect for authority or standard polite behaviour. For all you cop haters, I sure hope nothing ever happens to you that you need a police officer, b/c if you do, i hope they laugh in your face, as you laugh at this guy.

I wish Officer Rivieri the best. He did nothing wrong. What people around here fail to bring up is that this was not the little angel known as Eric Bush's first brush with the police as he was a frequent problem down there then, and most likely still is. Police get frustrated by parent's lack of action when their children's transgressions are brought to their attention, forcing the police to play the role of parent, which is what this video captures.

Eric Bush will continue to be a problem for police as he will now run the streets with a sense of impunity as he was able to take down an honorable 19-year veteran.

Also, I love how the Sun disrespects police by referring to them as "cops" in every article.

THIS is RIDICULOUS! The video does not depict the entire incident! The flames being fanned over this incident and the publicity given to it is UNFAIR to the Officer. Also too many parents protect their disrespectful punk kids instead of being PARENTS. THis is the problem with our society- lots of kids have NO respect for authority. Eric Bush will end up in jail--trust me! Officer Rivieri was 1 year away from a full retirement/pension. Parents today are raising thugs!

Can we please put the "they put their lives on the line every day" routine to rest? Police work is not even close to the top ten most dangerous jobs (see Department of Labor statistics), and we don't allow commercial fishermen or loggers to mouth off and physically abuse their employers because their jobs actually are dangerous. And the police work for us. We pay their salaries, and there is nothing about their work that gives them the right to verbally abuse or use force against someone who is not using physical force against another or resisting arrest.

I only see the part of the video that implicates the officer. I agree that police often abuse authority, but this may have been zealous community policing. I notice that the video does not show shocked bystanders. Maybe the kid's behavior honestly did need to be placed in check. I think that firing this officer is extreme. He would have been put on administrative leave for shooting the Baltimore.....especially if the kid was Black.

I'm happy he lost his job and that the government stood behind it. I'm sure this cop was tired of dealing with the punks of the city. Maybe he should have got a job as a county cop instead of going overboard.

How the problem is, no cops will even encounter the real punks of the city because they'll be scared they'll get fired. They just have to remember to not go over board. Personally I would have told the kids to call their parents and tell them that they need to come pick them up, not freak out at the punks as the cop did.

First of all, that "Uniform" and the little clown car is disrespectful to the badge and authority behind it. No wonder the Officer has an attitude. Who's idea was that?
I agree that he went over and above - with his yelling and berating of the kid. I also saw no reason to wrap his arm around the kid's neck and force him to the ground. I can't say whether he returned the skateboard or not. But, it sounded as if he was in the process of making a verbal threat over this video - in the last seconds of it. I'd cut him loose too, he's a liability to the Department!

Just like Esq Scott said...this guy should have never been on the force. I'll goo further than that. The Commish needs to go for the steady stream of Bad Cops in the mix under his watch. I don't believe he initiated the latest investigation regarding tow kick backs. He was there to take their badges so he could save face. He knew what was going on. Corruption is ok when towing the blue line. You just have to be a "good ol boy". Its been going on forever. Kickbacks,graft,murder,drug name it. They're the biggest gang in town, and we...John Q Public pay them! and @Johnny, I'm sure your son is a good cop and there are more out there. We just need to do away with those who don't want to be honest and do the right things!

Let this be a reminder to all cops that you cannot be abusive just becuase you wear a uniform.

This City always amazes me. Cops take money from tow drivers in a rank corruption scheme that reminds me of New Orleans and most of the comments are about how the cops did nothing wrong and aren't paid enough. This cop does something that some argue really is in the community interest and he gets terminated for not filing a public contact report -- which is about as pretextual as you can get. Yet, people cheer his dismissal. I am not a fan of the officer's conduct but on the scale of things his termination seems payback for political embarrassment. Suspend, yes. Fire, no.

Strike one up for the punks that make the downtown area unattractive to visitors. Is it any wonder why Baltimore's reputation continues to decline? The cop was out of control, no doubt, but do we know the entire story? He most likely was raised by incompetent parents, so you can't blame the kid for his disrespect of police and for pedestrains.

Another rogue thug cop, at least this one got what he deserved. The big problem is that this is only the tip of the iceberg, most people think cops are like what they see in tv series,that is so far` from the truth. I have been posting here forever about how the Balto. thug police are way out of control, now we are starting to see way more of it than we used to. It is far over due for there thuggish behavior toward the public to stop and stop now.

I support the policeman.

An absolute shame. What is wrong with the judicial system in Baltimore City? The copy may have been wrong, but the kid needs a few lessons in respect, not just for authority but for everyone around him that day. And the review commission did not suggest firing to be the punishment. Bealfield was wrong to go that far. The whole thing sucks, just like the city. So glas I got out of that hell hole.

When someone becomes that belligerent and screams it only matters if it's someone they respect. This Cop just kept it going too long. He did it too loud and too long. He clearly is a Cop to push people around. He would not do that to a man. But I'd like to see him stay on the force and send him into the ghetto so he would not be a bad ass.

I don't see anything wrong here. Kids now a days have zero respect for authority or their elders. Good job Officer.

This cop is your typical rude, angry bully who obviously feels he is above the law. The truth of the matter is that black people in Baltimore get treated much worse than this by cops daily. I've been stopped for no reason, berated, screamed at, pushed, and harassed by profane bullies like this loudmouth. Sadly, he is typical of your average white policeman in Baltimore City. Too bad Bealefeld is a eunuch who is only interested in his own pension. Bealefeld should have been fired when he was actively campaigning against Patricia Jessamy while in uniform.

Rivieri deserved to more than his firing. He should have been charged with battery.

I have a personal bias, as I am a skateboarder, and when I was younger, I had to deal with the police in skateboarding-related confrontations on several occasions.

For those of you who defend this officer (ex-officer to be exact), would you permit the same kind of abuse from a teacher? As a teacher, I deal with attitudes way more radical than this boy's, and it is merely a product of the age group.

It is one thing for a police officer to become confrontational in a situation that could be more dangerous, but do scrawny fourteen year-old skateboarders really warrant this kind of behavior?

This is truly disgusting, and I am upset that the city took the easy way out and did not prosecute this officer for aggravated assault.

I have already commented, but I want to add something that I left off.

These "punks" are just young kids trying to push back a little bit. Remember when you were young and you had everyone telling you what to do with little voice of your own.

Many people are criticizing how this kid was reared; however, do you expect everyone to be a little machine. I understand that the officer deserves respect, but as a human being, so does the kid and to those who say he was not respecting the officer, the officer surely was not respecting him either. If anything it was a mutual lack of respect being exchanged.

I've been a police officer for 5 years and it is officers like this that give us a bad name. It's unfortunate that so many people are so ignorant and have to judge all police officers based off of the actions of a few.

Man, you people have got to come up for air every once in awhile. Clearly the cop was a clear and present danger to a kid, mouthy or not, who presented no physical danger to the cop. Had the incident escalated, it would be a short step to assume what would have happened next. The guy was a cop, people being disrespectful is something they know comes with the territory. No firefighter complains about having to smell smoke. The public servant was not protecting anyone, he was not "putting his life on the line" and if the kid ran, I seriously doubt Porky would be able to catch him. Isn't there some requirement to be physically fit to be a cop instead of physically abusive? No one is above the law. Assault and battery is a crime and he should face criminal charges. The overlooked, serious concern I have is an internal board of review that saw nothing out of the way in the cop's actions. Some board other than other cops need to review cops' actions. I would love to see citizens who observe illegal actions like this make a citizen's arrest on an officer, with cameras rolling. Then maybe we can begin to see some law and order among our law and order officers.

What is the culture in that Police force though? Guy had been in for 17 years. Can you imagine how much other crap he did that never got on tape or saw public scrutiny? How many people spent time in jail because of his temper and insecurity? The man has clearly lost perspective on what his roll is supposed to be.

Attitudes like that have no business on any police force. Glad he was removed.

I'm so sick of hearing people say "this kid needs to learn respect." Tell me what he did that was so disrespectful that he deserved that kind of treatment by someone who is supposed to be a police and keep people safe? And most of all, shouldn't the officer, being a member of a police department, be required to be respectful to others? A kid wearing headphones, skateboarding, and calling you "dude" is in no way worthy of a verbal and physical assault by a police officer. If anything, the cop is the one who should have learned to be more respectful. I am glad he has been publicly humiliated and no longer has a job. He'll have to live the rest of his life as a disgraced, pathetic ex-officer who in his best days only rode around in a golf cart and yelled at people. He's a disgrace not only to the badge, but to human beings in general.

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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