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Richmond Police officers due in court on unrest-related assault charges

Posted at 5:32 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 20:45:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Two Richmond Police Officers indicted on misdemeanor assault charges are scheduled to have an arrangement hearing Wednesday morning at the John Marshall Courthouse.

Detectives Mark Janowski and Officer Christopher Brown each face one count of misdemeanor assault for alleged actions in the early morning of Sunday, May 31, according to court documents.

A Richmond Police Department (RPD) spokesperson told CBS 6 it happened around 5:24 a.m. in the 200 block of West Broad Street.

However, neither police nor court documents detailed what is alleged to have happened. Court documents only referred to an assault against "another person".

The incident would happened during the second day of protests in Richmond over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Janowski and Brown were among six officers whose actions were presented to a Grand Jury for a potential indictment.

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin presented 18 indictments total, but they were the only two that led to what’s known as a “true bill.

"It appears that [McEachin] presented anything that she thought was a colorable argument that they exceeded the scope of their authority as police officers," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said.

Stone said police have some immunity when it comes to engaging physically with the public, but added it appeared the grand jury didn’t feel that was the case for these two.

"It's fair to say that the grand jury found, at least, probable cause burden that they went beyond what they're legally justified to do," he said. "An assault can be anything as simple as taking your finger and shoving it in someone's shoulder in an offensive manner. That's an offensive touching and that's legally an assault. And it can be something much greater than that, too."

Court documents showed both men turned themselves in and were released on $2,000 unsecured bonds.

RPD said both men are on administrative assignment pending the outcome of the cases.

Mark Janowski.jpg
Mark Janowski
Christopher Brown.jpg
Christopher Brown

Both men were placed on an administrative assignment until a decision has been reached in their cases.

If convicted, the men face up to 12 months in jail or up to a $2,500 fine.