Baltimore County Police Cpl. Zachary Small has been charged with using excessive force against a handcuffed man whom he reportedly pepper-sprayed and closed inside a hot patrol car. Small, a 19-year veteran of the department, apparently dismissed pleas by the suspect, who claimed he couldn't breathe. "Like all citizens, Officer Small is entitled to the presumption of innocence," Small's attorney, Brian Thompson said in an email. "I would ask that everyone withhold judgment until the facts come out at trial. When that happens, we are confident that he will be fully exonerated." A Baltimore County police officer is accused of using excessive force when he pepper sprayed a handcuffed man in the face and closed him inside a hot patrol car, even as the man repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. In addition to excessive force, Cpl. Zachary Small has been charged with reckless endangerment, misconduct in office and multiple counts of assault, according to a grand jury indictment filed this week. His indictment includes a narrative account of the interaction, including verbal exchanges in which Small dismisses the man's pleas for fresh air. BALTIMORE POLICE OFFICERS CLEARED OF CHARGES IN FATAL SHOOTING OF SUSPECT DURING FOOT PURSUIT A 19-year veteran of the Baltimore County Police Department, Small previously served in the Military Police, according to his attorney. "Like all citizens, Officer Small is entitled to the presumption of innocence," attorney Brian Thompson said in an email. "I would ask that everyone withhold judgment until the facts come out at trial. When that happens, we are confident that he will be fully exonerated." According to Small’s indictment, he was among a group of officers dealing with a suspect who escaped from police custody while receiving hospital treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in September. Officers recaptured the suspect and restrained him with handcuffs and leg shackles, then placed him in the back seat of a patrol car with the windows rolled up, the indictment says. The man began banging his head against a window, telling officers he couldn’t breathe and complaining that the air conditioning was off. "I don’t care," Small replied, threatening to use a "whole can of pepper spray," according to the indictment. The indictment does not say why the man was hospitalized before his escape. Baltimore County Police vehicle The side door of a parked Baltimore County Police vehicle is seen in Hunt Valley, Maryland, on Feb. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) Small tried to slam the car door, but the man’s knee was in the way. Small then sprayed nine shots of pepper spray directly into the man’s face and closed the door, the indictment says. It says the man started gasping, choking and calling for help while kicking the car door to get officers’ attention. Small returned to the car and opened the door, pulling the man out by his shirt and throwing him on the ground, according to the indictment. "You asked for it. Just remember this. I warned you," Small said while yanking on the man’s dreadlocks, the indictment says. The suspect pleaded with officers not to put him back inside the car, but Small lifted him by his collar and forced him in, again closing the door, according to the indictment. Instead of calling for or giving the suspect medical help, Small ordered him taken to a police precinct. Two other officers, Justin Graham-Moore and Jacob Roos, were also charged with misconduct in office for their involvement in the encounter. Details about their alleged misconduct weren’t included in their indictments and their attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. In a statement posted to social media Thursday night, the union representing Baltimore County police officers said it supports "our members’ entitlement to due process and the fairness mandated by the law." A spokesperson for the Baltimore County Police Department acknowledged the charges and said the agency is cooperating with prosecutors. The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, which brought the case to a grand jury, declined to comment Friday. They said more information would be released at a news conference Tuesday.

Death toll from Esselunga construction site in Florence feared to be on the rise

An accident at a supermarket construction site in the Italian city of Florence on Friday killed at least three workers and left two others missing, local officials said.

The accident happened when a reinforced concrete beam toppled over a slab of a pre-fabricated building, which then collapsed. Local authorities said rescue teams were searching for the missing and that they feared the death toll could rise further.

Three other workers who were pulled out from the rubble of the collapsed building were taken to local hospitals and were later said to be in serious but not life-threatening condition. Tuscany region’s president, Eugenio Giani, said there were about 50 people on the site at the time of the accident, but only eight workers were reportedly involved in the collapse.


The supermarket under construction is part of Italy's Esselunga chain.

Giani told Italian TV SkyTg24 that the accident could have been even more tragic, as a school bus with children was passing near the site at the time. He added that the tragedy would "push all of us to commit strongly to avoid something similar ever happening again."

Italian flag

The Italian flag is seen in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on November 25, 2016. (Photo by Luiz Souza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Two street cleaners who arrived on the site shortly after the accident said they could hear the cries of injured workers calling out for help.

The building site has been cordoned off and formally seized by investigators. Later on Friday, Florence's public prosecutor office opened a probe, for now without naming suspects, for "culpable collapse and manslaughter," Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Italy’s three largest unions — CGIL, CISL and UIL — called for a "general strike" in Tuscany following the accident to demand better safety measures.

"No more deaths at work," said their joint statement, denouncing a surging number of accidents on Italian workplaces amid difficult and risky work conditions.

In 2021, the last year for which there is official data from the statistics agency Eurostat, Italy registered 601 workplace deaths. It was the second-highest figure in the European Union after France that year.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her condolences on X, formerly Twitter, and said she was following the developments "with apprehension."

The president of Esselunga, Marina Caprotti, expressed her grief for the accident and said that the company will be available to cooperate with magistrates to shed light on what caused the collapse.

Florence’s Mayor Dario Nardella proclaimed a day of mourning in the city on Saturday.

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