A Baltimore Police sergeant on Thursday was found not guilty of all charges that he drunkenly pointed a handgun at a bartender in West Baltimore after refusing to pay his tab while off duty.

Sgt. Larry Worsley, a more than 20-year veteran, was acquitted of first- and second-degree assault, use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, theft and intoxicated endangerment. The jury deliberated for less than one hour.

“We’re very grateful for the jury’s decision,” said Peter O’Neill, Worsley’s attorney, in an interview. “It’s been a very difficult 6 1/2 months for Sergeant Worsley.”

Worsley, he said, had been incarcerated at the Howard County Detention Center since his arrest. O’Neill said his client has been deprived of income and suffered reputational damage because of the allegations.

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O’Neill described the charges as baseless and stated that he believed that the state should not have brought them.

In his opening statement, O’Neill said Worsley provided a card on March 5 to pay his tab at Tequila Sunset, a bar on Pennsylvania Avenue near Clifton Avenue in Penn North. He was allowed to carry a gun in Baltimore.

O’Neill said it was “actually frightening” that the state moved to put a 20-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department on trial given the problems with its case. He said it would not come close to proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Sergeant Worsley is innocent,” O’Neill said. “He absolutely didn’t do it.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Steven Trostle, chief of the Public Trust and Police Integrity Unit, said Worsley went to Tequila Sunset and had several drinks.

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Worsley, he said, was being touchy-feely and was told to leave the bar. He tried to go without paying his $42 tab, Trostle said.

When a bartender told Worsley to pay his tab, he racked his gun and stated, “I ain’t paying for s---,” Trostle said.

“These are the facts that, if all goes well, will be presented to you,” Trostle said in his opening statement.

Officer Noah Carter testified that he received a call for an armed person that night and responded to Tequila Sunset.

Carter spoke to a woman — he couldn’t recall her name — who got in the back of his patrol vehicle. He said he found Worsley about 1-2 minutes later on Reisterstown Road, and police arrested him.

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Next, Officer Louis Rinaldo testified that he also responded to the bar that night for a call about an armed person.

A bartender who was in the middle of the street, he said, flagged him down before he got out of his patrol vehicle.

Worsley, he said, was carrying a Glock 22 — his service weapon — in a satchel. He was slurring his words, and his breath smelled like alcohol, Rinaldo said.

“I could tell that he was impaired,” Rinaldo testified. “He was just kind of like in a fog.”

The head bartender, Shanika Lee, reluctantly testified at the trial. Circuit Judge Jennifer B. Schiffer signed a body attachment warrant after she did not show up to court.

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Lee testified that Worsley came into the bar with a woman and was being loud. She said it seemed like the two had been partying earlier in the evening.

At one point, Lee said, she cut Worsley off. Worsley dragged the woman he was with by the hair, Lee testified, and tried to leave without paying.

Lee said she told him that he needed to pay his tab. Worsley then retrieved a gun from a bag and pointed it at her, she testified.

“Like, really?” Lee said she thought at that moment. “Did this just happen? Is this a joke?”

On cross-examination, Lee sparred with O’Neill as he questioned her about the differences in her testimony and her statement to police, which included a discrepancy about whether she had Worsley’s card. She kept talking over him and drew admonishments from the judge.

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“This is stressful,” Lee testified at one point. “It’s not right. I don’t want to be here. Can I please go home?”

Worsley was one of five witnesses who testified in the defense case and denied the allegations. He called the accusation that he pulled out a gun and pointed it at the bartender a “false statement.”

“That is incorrect,” Worsley said. “I never produced a firearm.”

He said he stopped at the Tequila Sunset with a friend because he used to go to the bar when he worked the midnight shift to check on the business as part of his regular patrol.

Worsley is on the “Do Not Call” list of current and former police officers the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office will not call to testify under any circumstances.

In a statement, State’s Attorney Ivan Bates commended the “phenomenal case” that the Public Trust and Police Integrity Unit presented against Worsley and said that his administration will continue to never call him to testify in any case.

Though Worsley was not found guilty, Bates said, “it is essential to acknowledge the pain and frustration this verdict may cause within our community.”

“We must respect the legal process, even when it yields outcomes that may not align with our expectations,” he said. “This case underscores the urgent need for continued efforts to build trust and transparency between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

dylan.segelbaum@thebaltimorebanner.com

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