The Baltimore Police Department has launched an internal investigation after an officer was filmed intentionally coughing at residents while walking through a public housing complex in Southeast Baltimore.
“The Department takes COVID-19 very seriously and we do not condone any action by our members which may be perceived as making light of the COVID-19 pandemic, ” the Department said in a statement on Monday (April 6) according to CNN.
Video footage of the incident picks up as the officer walks towards a woman who addresses him as “officer friendly with the cherry cheeks.” The officer doesn’t respond verbally but begins coughing at the woman and continues coughing without covering his mouth as he walks past numerous residents.
Baltimore police investigating video showing officer cough near residents of a housing project; at least 8 cops in the department have tested positive for coronavirus
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) April 7, 2020
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison called the footage “disturbing.”
“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,” Harrison said in the statement. “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 BPD confirmed on Monday that at least eight police officers and two civilian employees tested positive for COVID-19. According to WBAL-TV, 94 officers have been cleared to return to work after the department quarantined 305 officers amid the pandemic.