BALTIMORE — A Baltimore police sergeant is under investigation after a video circulating on social media showed him coughing near residents at a southeast Baltimore housing development.
The Baltimore Police Department became aware of a video posted online this morning, which depicted a Baltimore Police sergeant repeatedly coughing near citizens in Southeast Baltimore," a police spokesperson said. "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's Public Integrity Bureau immediately opened up an internal investigation and reviewed the online video, as well as the sergeant's body-worn camera footage. The department will conduct a complete investigation, and hopes that all of its members and the public will continue to work together with respect as we maneuver forward during this challenging time.
"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," Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said. "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."
Baltimore community activist Tawanda Jones is calling for the officer's job.
"It's disgraceful…it says a lot about his character. It says, 'I don't care about nobody's life.' Your lives do not matter," Jones said. "He needs to be fired on the spot that is unacceptable."
Jones says the officer's behavior puts people's lives at risk. She says she is hoping the sergeant's behavior didn't get anyone sick.
"I pray to God that he doesn't have it because if he did, that's a deadly game that he is playing," she said. "He is playing Russian roulette with people's lives."
Currently, 12 police officers with the Baltimore Police Department have tested positive for COVID-19.
City Council President Brandon Scott also released a statement on the incident.
"COVID-19 is not a joke and this behavior is beyond unacceptable. When you are in public service, it is your duty to treat everyone with respect, especially when we are dealing with both a public health pandemic and a gun violence epidemic," Scott said. "This is not behavior that we want our police officers or any of our public servants to model to our residents."
This story was originally published on WMAR.com.