Georgia officer charged with hitting homeless woman

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DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — An Atlanta-area police officer who was captured on video repeatedly hitting a homeless woman inside a convenience store was indicted Thursday on felony charges, a prosecutor said.

A grand jury indicted DeKalb County police Officer Phillip Larscheid, 29, on charges of aggravated assault and violation of his oath of office, county District Attorney Sherry Boston said.

Reached by email, Larscheid's attorney Lance LoRusso said his client is "considering his options."

"We'll take appropriate action in the next days and weeks," LoRusso said. "Obviously, it's devastating."

Police initially cleared Larscheid after the June 4, 2017, arrest, Boston said. But the department reopened its use-of-force investigation after a bystander's video of the arrest surfaced online, she said.

Larscheid responded after employees at the gas station convenience store in Decatur, just east of Atlanta, called to report that someone, later identified as Katie McCrary, was begging customers for money at the store.

McCrary was inside, near the front door, when Larscheid arrived. She tried to push him out of the way and walk out the door, the police report says. When he told her to stay where she was, she said she was a federal agent and gave a "random badge number."

Larscheid told McCrary she could be arrested for impersonating an officer, and she responded that he was impersonating an officer and grabbed his badge, the report says. When he pushed her back, she grabbed his vest and radio, Larscheid wrote in his report.

He got out his baton and told her to lie on the ground and then began to hit her leg with the baton when she refused, the report says. She dropped to the ground and began kicking him and he continued to hit her with the baton, the report says.

The video shows the officer repeatedly striking McCrary with his baton as he tells her to put her hands behind her back and she struggles. At least two people off camera can be heard on the video addressing McCrary by name and telling her to stop resisting.

At one point, McCrary is seen putting her arm over the officer's baton as he presses her to the floor with his knee in her back, and he repeatedly shouts at her, "Let it go or I'm gonna shoot you."

As the officer cuffs her hands behind her back, McCrary can be heard repeating, "What did I do?"

Medical personnel at the scene checked her, and she was taken to a hospital where she was evaluated and released, the report says.

McCrary, now 40, was charged with obstructing an officer and was also given a criminal trespass warning, the report says. Boston said Thursday that her office will not pursue charges against McCrary stemming from that arrest.

County spokesman Andrew Cauthen said in an email earlier Thursday that Larscheid was still employed by the police department but had been on clerical duty since July 11, 2017. Cauthen did not immediately respond to an email after the indictment was issued asking whether that affected Larscheid's employment.

Boston says she has been in touch with Larscheid's attorney and that Larscheid has agreed to turn himself in by 5 p.m. Saturday.

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