Police vet convicted of assault on homeless woman

MerkelUPPER MARLBORO – A 14-year veteran of the Prince George's County Police Department was convicted on Tuesday of second-degree assault and misconduct in office for assaulting a homeless woman outside a Lanham pawn shop.

While on patrol on Sept. 22, 2016, County Police Officer George Merkel observed a homeless woman sleeping outside a business. As he attempted to get her to move, he allegedly shouted multiple obscenities at her, pulled her to her feet by her ears, and struck her in the head.

Two other county officers on the scene, Noel Andres and Tawnya Ramirez, witnessed Merkel’s attack on the homeless woman and testified during the trial about what they observed.

The Internal Affairs Division launched an investigation after learning of the incident. Merkel’s police powers were suspended in October of 2016.

“Officer’s Merkel’s actions are completely unacceptable and without justification,” Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said. “A police officer has a responsibility to help those in need and Officer Merkel certainly did not do that in this instance. I am pleased that he has been held accountable for his actions.”

The case was brought to the State’s Attorney’s Office by county police as part of their internal investigation into the incident.

Merkel remains free on bond. His sentencing is set for Jan. 5, 2018. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years for the assault.

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