DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - An attorney for an indicted DeKalb County Police officer charged with beating a homeless woman inside a convenience store said Friday his client is “understandably deeply concerned” about the charges against him.
The statement comes after a DeKalb County grand jury indicted Officer Phillip Larscheid on Thursday on charges of aggravated assault and violation of his oath of office.
In a statement to FOX 5 Atlanta, defense attorney Lance LoRusso said:
“Master Police Officer Phillip Larscheid is considering his options going forward. He was Officer of the Year for 2014 for the entire DeKalb County Police Department and has received more than nineteen commendations during his eight years with the department. He certified with an ASP baton in the DeKalb Police Academy and seven times after that during annual training. He is understandably deeply concerned and taking these charges very seriously.”
During a Thursday news conference announcing the indictment, DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston told reporters that Larscheid was initially cleared of any wrongdoing, but the case was reopened about a month later after a bystander’s video recording of the incident went viral on social media. The DeKalb County Police Department asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the case.
The incident occurred on June 4, 2017, after officers were called to a convenience store in the 3300 block of Glenwood Road, on a complaint that a homeless woman was soliciting customers.
Initial information from DeKalb County police stated Katie McCrary was aggressively resisting the officer’s command, resulting in the officer using a baton in an attempt to restrain and arrest her. However, the cellphone video, which surfaced after the incident, shows the officer repeatedly hitting McCrary with a baton as she was on the floor kicking and seemingly blocking the blows.
Boston said McCrary was taken into custody and transported to the DeKalb County Jail but was rejected because of her injuries. She was sent to Grady Memorial Hospital. Police eventually charged McCrary with obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers, and also served her with a criminal trespass warning.
Boston said her office does not plan to pursue those charges against McCrary in light of the investigation into the officer's actions.
"I ran for District Attorney because I wanted to let the community know that we are going to increase the trust within our community between law enforcement and people on the streets," Boston said Thursday.
In a statement to FOX 5 Atlanta, attorneys for McCrary said their client was not armed and posed no threat but was brutally beaten by the officer.
Attorney and former judge Glenda Hatchett said: “Where is our humanity and how could a police officer, who is sworn to serve and protect citizens, abuse his oath and so horribly beat a defenseless unarmed woman as if her life had no value? I was sickened when I saw the video. The conduct of DeKalb County Officer Phillip Larscheid was despicable and unacceptable. We bear a responsibility to share these images as a matter of public interest. We are pleased that District Attorney Boston presented this matter to the Grand Jury and that the officer was indicted on two felony charges.”
Hatchett added, “The police officer should absolutely be held accountable for his outrageous conduct that resulted in Ms. McCrary suffering extensive physical and emotional harm.”
According to DeKalb County, Larscheid is still an employee of the DeKalb County Police Department, though he has been on clerical duty since July 2017. Larscheid was initially hired in December 2010.