Baltimore police officer attacked transgender inmate

Prosecutors say correctional officer Terrence Petty argued over preferred restroom choice before touching inmate and striking her in face

A correctional officer stood up a transgender inmate in a Baltimore jail cell and dropped her on her face, prosecutors said.

Guard Terrence Petty allegedly assaulted Linnea Martin in a fight after she challenged the guard’s choice of restroom, prosecutors said. It is believed to be the first use of the Baltimore police department’s force against an inmate by a corrections officer.

The incident was caught on a cellphone video and shared on social media and had never before been investigated by the department, which has now said the guard will be fired.

“The video is absolutely heartbreaking,” commissioner Gary Maynard said in a statement. “It highlights the circumstances that led to this use of force. This does not represent the Baltimore City correctional system. We are deeply sorry for the harm done to Ms Martin.”

Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh said Petty should be fired.

Inmates are regularly placed in women’s housing units at Baltimore’s correctional facilities, including the Preakness detention facility on the city’s western edge, because of a lack of female and therapeutic housing options, Maynard said. “I want to ensure that no one is being treated unequally,” he said.

The incident took place on 16 December. Maynard said the department’s investigation determined that Petty had done nothing wrong in the interaction.

But prosecutors followed up with a charge of second-degree assault against Petty, who was at an early intervention program at the time of the alleged assault.

He was charged by state prosecutors and is scheduled to appear in court on 9 January. He has not been arrested and remained on active duty with the department as of Friday.

Martin, who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria after becoming a woman and wearing women’s clothing in adult prison for several years, has said she is no longer suicidal and described the correctional system as a “sham” that fails to help trans women.

Petty’s lawyer, Ven Nata, declined to comment.

Kimberley Burnette, vice-president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, applauded the commissioner’s move. “We don’t need discriminatory policies like these in the Baltimore City correctional system,” she said.

Maynard said the department also plans to review its use of force policies.

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