A former Metro Transit Police officer accused of assaulting a 60-year-old man he was trying to arrest has been found not guilty of the crime by a Prince George's County judge.
Part of the incident was caught on camera and played in court during the two-day trial. But after hearing the evidence and seeing the video, Judge Dwight Jackson decided David Mann had not committed a crime.
Mann was fired by Metro just two months after he was caught on camera punching 60-year-old John Dowtin while the man was down on the ground. The Metro cop then lifted the man into the air and slammed him to the pavement.
The video tells one story. Mann tells another.
The former police lieutenant bent over at the waist and let the tears flow after Judge Jackson said not guilty on all counts.
The 20-year veteran of the Metro Transit Police Department was overwhelmed and relieved his ordeal was over.
"It was just a ton of stress off of my back,” said Mann outside the courthouse in Upper Marlboro Wednesday afternoon. “Very emotional [with] looking at the possibility of doing time in jail just for trying to do my job.”
Mann was dressed in a blue police uniform standing over Dowtin outside the Southern Avenue bus annex on September 2, 2011 when a witness turned on a camera.
The officer can be seen punching Dowtin before picking him up and slamming him to the ground.
The footage shows him doing it twice, but Mann said he actually did it three times -- for good reason: the man wouldn't show his hands.
"The first time I did it, his hand came out and I regained the right hand with the handcuff on it, but he managed to get it from my grasp once more,” said Mann. “I'm repeatedly striking him, giving him verbal commands, ‘Give me your hands.’ Then a second time I do it, his hand doesn't come out. I'm hitting him again [and say] ‘Give me your hands.’ And the third time I do it … after his hands come out, I’m still struggling, still hitting him and telling him ‘Give me your hands’ and I finally handcuff him.”
Mann admits his used what is called a “wall stun” on Dowtin, which is not taught or sanctioned by the agency.
Testimony at trial also revealed Dowtin was drunk and throwing rocks at Metro employees before Mann arrived. He had also broken some windows.
But the State's Attorney’s Office thought what Mann did was nothing short of criminal.
"Well, we obviously disagree with the decision in this case and finding Mr. Mann not guilty, and there are several others who disagree with us,” said State’s Attorney spokesperson John Erzen. “The citizens of Prince George's County who sit on the grand jury disagree with us as they chose to indict Mr. Mann. We believe that the citizens of this county, had they had an opportunity to sit on the jury and hear this case instead of it being a bench trial, that they also, with the evidence and the video we have, that they would have agreed with us that the actions by Mr. Mann that night were certainly criminal.”
The video did not capture the entire sequence of events including Mann deploying pepper spray and struggling with Dowtin for several minutes before the video begins.
Dowtin was seriously injured during the incident having fractured some ribs and a bone in his back.
But Judge Jackson said Lieutenant Mann was trying to make an arrest without having all of the information on the man’s behavior, and although the lieutenant failed to use "best practices," his actions did not rise to the level of a crime.
Metro declined to comment.