Three Baltimore County Police officers have been indicted by Baltimore prosecutors in connection with an alleged assault of a detainee that took place in the city last fall.

Cpl. Zachary Small, 51, is facing charges of first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, misconduct in office and a related charge. The grand jury indictment alleges that Small pepper sprayed in the face an escaped prisoner who was inside a patrol car with the windows rolled up. He then held the prisoner by his hair for 28 seconds, while the detainee said he could not breathe.

“You asked for it,” Small said, according to the indictment. “Just remember this. I warned you.”

Justin Graham-Moore, 24, and Jacob Roos, 28, were also charged with misconduct in office. They are accused of failing to intervene, though charging documents for their indictments were not available Friday morning.

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The charges were filed in the city, because the altercation occurred outside Johns Hopkins Hospital, where the victim had been taken for treatment. The indictment says a total of 18 police officers and Johns Hopkins security guards were present.

Reached by phone, Small declined to comment. His defense attorney, Brian Thompson, said his client maintained that he “did his job and did nothing wrong.”

“He looks forward to his defending himself in court,” Thompson said.

Graham-Moore and Roos could not be reached for comment. Their defense attorney, Oana Brooks, declined to comment.

Baltimore County Police spokeswoman Joy Stewart said Thursday the agency was cooperating with city prosecutors but did not answer questions whether the officers had been under investigation or facing internal disciplinary charges prior to the indictment. On Friday, Stewart said the officers were suspended and under internal investigation, but would not elaborate.

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The indictment says Small, Graham-Moore and Roos ventured into the city to pick up a suspect, 32-year-old Justin Russell, who had escaped police custody at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was placed into a patrol car with his hands cuffed behind his back and legs shackled. The windows of the vehicle were rolled up.

Russell began to hit his head on the back window, saying he couldn’t breathe. Small, according to the indictment, responded: “You break that fucking window and you’re gonna get the whole can of pepper spray!”

“I cannot breathe. You got all the windows rolled up,” Russell responded.

“Yes, you can,” Small said.

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“Please don’t kill me like this,” Russell said.

The indictment says Small then sprayed nine “shots” of pepper spray directly into Russell’s face, then closed the car door. “Mr. Russell began to gasp, choke, and call out for the assistance of the officers while doing so kicking against the car door to get the attention of the officers,” the indictment says.

Small pulled Russell out of the car by his shirt and threw him onto the ground, the indictment says. He “gathered Mr. Russell’s locks at the roots” and began to yank his head and neck back and forth. Russell said he couldn’t breathe and asked not to be placed back into the patrol car. The indictment says Small lifted him up by his shirt collar and forced him back into the patrol car.

“It’s so hot in here. ... Why are you doing this to me?” Russell said, according to the indictment.

The indictment says Small did not call for medical assistance and did not render aid. He was transported to the Woodlawn precinct station instead. The indictment says Small violated multiple criminal laws and county police policies and procedures.

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Russell could not be reached for comment. He is being held without bond pending a 22-count indictment in Baltimore County, including four counts of armed robbery. Court records show he was convicted last month of one count of resisting arrest and sentenced to nine months, in an unrelated incident in the city.

Russell was also previously convicted of armed carjacking in the city in 2018, receiving a sentence of 15 years with all but five years suspended. In 2012, he was sentenced to four years after pleading guilty for assaulting a prison employee.

The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office declined to comment, saying an announcement was planned for Tuesday.

In 2011, Small was among three officers honored at the Kennedy Center, and recognized by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony, for saving a Pikesville man from a house fire in 2010.

“We support our members’ right to due process and fairness the law requires,” said Dave Rose, president of the county police department’s Fraternal Order of Police lodge. “We encourage everyone to reserve judgment until all the facts are known.”

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In a statement, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said: “Treating every person with dignity and respect is foundational to building safer communities, fostering trust with those we serve, and ensuring we uphold the principles of justice and equity. Baltimore County will be fully cooperative with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office in this matter, and we expect a swift, thorough, and just judicial process for all involved.”

Baltimore Banner reporter Cody Boteler contributed to this story.