In one instance, Baltimore Police Sgt. Ethan Newberg walked across the street and around the corner to arrest a bystander without probable cause or legal justification.
In another interaction, Newberg ordered a 16-year-old to walk away — and then handcuffed and detained him even after he had complied. The sergeant later let the teen go after exacting an apology.
And in yet another encounter, Newberg took a man who was walking away into custody after accusing him of interfering with a traffic stop and jeopardizing the safety of officers.
“I’m the sergeant they talk about — now you’ve met me,” Newberg said in police body-camera video shown in court. “Sergeant Newberg. Now you know me.”
Newberg, 53, of Westminster, a more than 27-year veteran, pleaded guilty on Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court to misconduct in office for engaging in what prosecutors previously described as a “pattern and practice of harassment and intimidation.” He faces up to three years in prison at sentencing on Aug. 14.
The investigation started after Newberg was arrested on charges of second-degree assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office for unlawfully arresting Lee Dotson on Ashton Street near South Bentalou Street in Carrollton Ridge on May 30, 2019. The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office then reviewed more body-camera videos and uncovered eight additional times in which the sergeant arrested or tried to arrest people who had committed no crime dating to July 1, 2018.
Assistant State’s Attorney Steven Trostle, chief of the Public Trust and Police Integrity Unit, played police body-camera video of each of those instances in court.
Trostle said the state will argue for a sentence of three years in prison. Meanwhile, Newberg will be able to push for a lesser punishment of probation before judgment.
Circuit Judge Robert K. Taylor Jr. accepted the guilty plea and agreed to cap the maximum sentence at three years in prison.
“This is the first step towards justice for the many victims of this officer’s serial misconduct. This is an egregious case that cries out for further justice at sentencing,” said William “Billy” Murphy Jr., a prominent attorney in Baltimore who represents Dotson and Charles Kuniken in a federal lawsuit against Newberg and the Baltimore Police Department. “We look forward to commenting more about this case at that time.”
The lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Outside the courtroom in the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse, Joe Murtha, Newberg’s attorney, said, “There will be a lot to say at the time of sentencing.”
“After 28 years of service to the citizens of Baltimore, it’s an unfortunate ending to a dedicated career in law enforcement,” Murtha said.
At a news conference in 2019, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison described Newberg’s actions as “deeply disturbing and illegal.”
In response, Sgt. Mike Mancuso, president of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, sent an open letter to members criticizing Harrison for his willingness to condemn Newberg but not what he described as violence in the Inner Harbor.
Lindsey Eldridge, a police spokesperson, said in an email that Newberg is on paid administrative duty. His police powers are suspended.
Newberg made more than $114,000 in fiscal year 2022, according to the city’s salary database. He remains free ahead of sentencing.