Beaten College Student John McKenna Will Sue Police, Lawyer Says

John McKenna recovering from concussion; one officer already suspended.

ByABC News via logo
April 13, 2010, 11:57 AM

April 14, 2010— -- The University of Maryland student whose beating was caught on video plans to sue the police officers he has accused of assaulting him, his lawyer said today.

John McKenna, 21, is still recovering from the physical injuries he received last month when he got caught up in a celebration of his school basketball team's win over Duke. Newly released video shows three Prince George's County police officers in riot gear ramming the student and then beating him with batons.

Left unconscious in the street, McKenna suffered a concussion and defensive-type bruises on his arms. He needed eight staples in his skull to close his head wound, his lawyer, Chris Griffiths, told "Good Morning America."

"He's a young man ... and he's recovering from the physical injuries," he said, "but obviously there was quite a bit of emotional distress he suffered in the incident."

One officer has been suspended and authorities have promised a thorough investigation into the incident on a College Park, Md., street, which was documented in a police report that Griffiths called a "cover-up." But Griffiths said he and his client want to make sure the officers involved are held accountable in civil court.

Griffiths said today that the police abuse continued even out of sight of the video camera. In the ambulance, he charged, McKenna was told not to make a fuss about his injuries. Griffiths said that was because injuries as severe as what the officers allegedly inflicted on the college student would have required more paperwork that would have contradicted the police report.

"On the way to the jail, officers removed the bandages from his head and said, 'Look, if you want to go home tonight, don't complain about your injuries.'"

Jail officials, he said, immediately saw the teen needed medical attention and got him to the hospital.

Photographs show a large gash on McKenna's skull, held together with multiple stitches. They also show sizable cuts and bruises on his body.

"It's clear the charging document is nothing more than a cover for the officers' misconduct," Griffiths said. "By charging him they are able to justify any injuries."

The sworn statement of charges by the officers said that McKenna himself "struck those officers and their horses, causing minor injuries."

The statement described McKenna's injuries as minor, caused when he was "kicked by the horses."

It also claims that McKenna was inciting a crowd. The charges against McKenna have since been dropped.