BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – The Baltimore police officer fired three years after a rant toward a teenage skateboarder spoke out Saturday morning, saying he feels devastated and blindsided by the firing.
Officer Salvatore Rivieri, a 19-year veteran, is no longer with the department, officials said in confirming the dismissal.
A video posted on YouTube, apparently shot in the summer of 2007, shows Rivieri putting a youth, Eric Bush, into a headlock and pushing him to the ground. Bush was 14 at the time. The clip received millions of views on YouTube and was picked up by national news channels.
On Saturday morning’s Kendel Ehrlich Show on WBAL 1090 AM, Rivieri said of the 2007 confrontation the he warned the boy and his friends that skateboarding at the Inner Harbor is illegal.
Bush has said he did not hear an order that the officer gave him about skateboarding at the Inner Harbor. Rivieri repeatedly got upset at being called “dude” in the video.
“I’m not ‘man.’ I’m not ‘dude,’ I am Officer Rivieri,” he told the teen. “The sooner you learn that, the longer you are going to live in this world. Because you go around doing this kind of stuff and somebody is going to kill you.”
On Saturday, Rivieri said the video does not show him and Bush shaking hands after the confrontation.
Rivieri was suspended and sent back on the streets in November 2008. Earlier this month, the city police trial board dismissed the most serious charges against him but found him guilty of failure to submit a police report and recommended a six-day suspension without pay; however, days later, Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld overruled that decision and fired him.
Rivieri is appealing the case. Bob Cherry, head of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, said Wednesday that the union is outraged by the firing. Cherry said the officers in the FOP have supported Rivieri’s actions.
The Police Department has declined comment citing a personnel matter.