October 22, 2014

UPDATE: Last Year’s Police Brutality Claim Brought By Man with Down Syndrome Partially Dismissed by Federal Court

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

If you recall, last year a Maryland man was killed when he was accosted by three police officers for sneaking into a movie for which he didn’t have a ticket. The 26-year-old man had Down Syndrome and had walked back into the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” after seeing it once to watch it again. He did not have a ticket for the second showing.

Three Frederick County deputies were moonlighting as security guards for that particular theater, and they approached the man. The situation escalated, and the deputies eventually placed the man in handcuffs and dragged him out of the theater. At some point in the fray, the three deputies crushed the man’s larynx, which caused him to have difficulty breathing.

The deputies released the man and called emergency personnel, but it was too late. He had asphyxiated in the meantime.

Continue reading "UPDATE: Last Year’s Police Brutality Claim Brought By Man with Down Syndrome Partially Dismissed by Federal Court" »

June 19, 2014

Family of Man with Down Syndrome Sues the State of Maryland After He’s Killed While Being Detained By Off-Duty Police

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Earlier this year, a man with Down Syndrome was killed when three police officers moonlighting as mall security officers tried to detain the man for repeatedly viewing the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” without a ticket. According to a report by the Washington Post, the officers tried to forcibly remove the man and in the process fractured his larynx, causing him to suffocate. The medical examiner listed the death as a homicide, but the district attorney decided not to press criminal charges.

Evidently, the man’s family has filed suit against the State of Maryland, claiming that the treatment of their loved one was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The mall operator as well as the cinema are also named in the suit.

Maryland’s Response

The State of Maryland is asking the federal court hearing the case to dismiss the suit, arguing that the man was targeted by the police officers not because of his disability but because he was breaking the law.

Continue reading "Family of Man with Down Syndrome Sues the State of Maryland After He’s Killed While Being Detained By Off-Duty Police" »

March 19, 2014

Family of Man with Down Syndrome Killed in Altercation with Off-Duty Police Files Amended Complaint in Wrongful Death, Survival Lawsuit

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Cinemaaustralia.jpgThe family of a man who was killed in an altercation with off-duty sheriff’s deputies at a Maryland movie theater have filed an amended complaint in their wrongful death and survival lawsuit. Estate of Saylor, et al, v. Regal Cinemas, Inc., et al, No. 1:13-cv-03089, am. complaint (D. Md., Mar. 11, 2014). Several defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit late last year, claiming that the lawsuit failed to state a claim on which the court could grant relief against them. The plaintiffs sought and received leave from the court to amend their complaint, dropping two defendants and adding the State of Maryland in March 2014.

The decedent, Robert Ethan Saylor, was twenty-six years old at the time of his death on January 12, 2013. He had Down Syndrome, with an I.Q. of 40 and physical features commonly associated with the condition. According to the amended complaint, he was about five-feet-six-inches tall and weighed 294 pounds. He went to a movie theater in Frederick on the evening of January 12 with an aide. After the movie, Saylor reportedly became angry when the aide asked if he wanted to go home. The aide called Saylor’s mother, who suggested she go get the car. She left Saylor outside the theater to get the car, which was permitted under his care plan, and when she returned found that he had gone back inside.

A manager approached the aide, and she explained Saylor’s condition, explained that he would “freak out” if touched, id. at 6, and recommended that no one speak to him. The manager then asked an off-duty sheriff’s deputy working as a security guard to remove Saylor. The guard called in two additional security guards, also off-duty deputies, to assist. When they attempted to physically remove Saylor, he resisted, and the guards used force against him. Saylor suffered a fractured larynx, and was pronounced dead at the hospital just before midnight. The medical examiner ruled it a homicide. The plaintiffs describe it as a “violent, terrifying, and painful death.” Id. at 7.

Continue reading "Family of Man with Down Syndrome Killed in Altercation with Off-Duty Police Files Amended Complaint in Wrongful Death, Survival Lawsuit" »

January 14, 2014

Lawsuit Accuses Sheriff's Deputies of Negligently Putting Locksmith in Harm's Way, Resulting in His Death, During Attempted Eviction of Tenant with Violent History

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

HPD_SWAT_Team.jpgA lawsuit alleges that sheriff’s deputies negligently placed a locksmith in an unreasonably dangerous situation by bringing him along on an eviction without warning him of specific known risks, resulting in his death. Engert, et al v. Stanislaus County, et al, No. 1:13-cv-00126, 2nd am. complaint (E.D. Ca., Oct. 23, 2013). The individual subject to eviction was reportedly known to be both heavily armed and violent, but the sheriff’s deputies allegedly did not warn the locksmith of the danger, nor did they provide any safeguards for him. The locksmith’s widow sued the county and various county officials for violations of her late husband’s civil and constitutional rights, negligence, and wrongful death.

Two deputies of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, Robert Paris and Michael Glinskas, were assigned on April 12, 2012 to perform an eviction at an apartment in Modesto, California. According to the plaintiff’s most recent amended complaint, the apartment’s occupant, James Ferrario, was known to the sheriff’s department as a “dangerous, mentally unstable individual, with weapons in his home,” and with a history of threats and assaults. The deputies brought a locksmith, Glendon Engert, along to open the apartment door.

The deputies allegedly did not warn Engert of the possible threat posed by Ferrario. Engert’s position in front of a doorway, with a possibly armed individual inside, is reportedly known as a “vertical coffin.” Ferrario opened fire from inside the apartment with armor-piercing bullets, killing Engert and Paris. After an eleven-hour standoff, Ferrario committed suicide. A search of his apartment yielded twenty-two firearms, including an M16 and an SKS rifle, and about five hundred rounds of ammunition.

Continue reading "Lawsuit Accuses Sheriff's Deputies of Negligently Putting Locksmith in Harm's Way, Resulting in His Death, During Attempted Eviction of Tenant with Violent History" »

February 11, 2013

Parents of 7 Year-Old File Notice of Intent to Sue Police for Allegedly Handcuffing, Interrogating Child for 10 Hours

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

file0001127388145.jpgThe parents of a seven year-old Bronx boy filed a notice of a claim against the New York City Police Department for $250 million. Another student at their son’s elementary school accused the boy of stealing five dollars from him, and the parents allege that the police drastically overreacted by detaining him for ten hours. The claim, filed with city officials, is a required step prior to filing a lawsuit for damages against the city.

Police say that they responded to a report of a robbery and assault at PS X114 in the Bronx at around 10:20 a.m. on December 4, 2012, four days after the alleged offense occurred. The child claiming to be the victim of the robbery, a nine year-old whom we shall refer to as A., alleged that another boy, seven year-old W., punched and shoved him, then took five dollars out of his pocket. This occurred off school grounds. A. described W. to the media as “the worst bully,” claiming that W. routinely harassed him. W. denied A.’s allegations, saying that the money had fallen to the ground, and that another boy picked it up. W.’s family alleged that another boy later admitted to the theft.

Instead of sending W. to the principal’s office, the school called the police, who allegedly pulled W. out of class and detained him at the school for about four hours. They then took W. to the 44th Precinct. W.’s mother, Frances Mendez, says that she was not allowed to see W. when she arrived at the station. When officers eventually allowed Mendez and her sister to see W., they claim that they found him in a panicked state with his left wrist handcuffed to a wall. W. allegedly spent six hours at the precinct. Mendez claims that officers “verbally, physically, and emotionally abused” W. during this time, and that they also “intimidated, humiliated, embarrassed and defamed” him.

Continue reading "Parents of 7 Year-Old File Notice of Intent to Sue Police for Allegedly Handcuffing, Interrogating Child for 10 Hours" »

August 13, 2012

Federal Lawsuit Alleges Police Brutality; Local DA Declines to Prosecute Officers

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

320px-Towanda_Main_Street.jpgA federal lawsuit claims that multiple Pennsylvania State Police officers physically and verbally assaulted a man, both during a traffic stop and while he was in police custody. Video from a police cruiser dashboard camera reportedly shows both verbal and physical abuse by troopers, and the man says that police continued to assault him for hours afterwards. The lawsuit claims various violations of constitutional rights and intentional torts against the state police department and certain individual officers.

Police pulled over 31 year-old Robert Leone, a resident of Vestal, New York, on March 8, 2010, on Route 6 in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Police allege that Leone was involved in a hit and run, that he led them on a chase, and that he was acting “out of control.” Leone denies any involvement in a hit and run accident. Prosecutors later claimed he had high levels of the drug Adderall, a stimulant used to treat attention-deficit disorders, in his system at the time. Dashboard camera footage of the arrest reportedly shows state troopers beating Leone, and Leone says that officers moved him to an area out of the view of the camera to continue the beatings.

Continue reading "Federal Lawsuit Alleges Police Brutality; Local DA Declines to Prosecute Officers" »

August 7, 2012

Lawsuit Alleges Prison Nurse Denied Emergency Medical Care to Inmate.

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

1147342_69967658.jpgA woman in Minnesota is suing several registered nurses (RNs) over the death of her son, who died while in the custody of the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MDOC). The lawsuit alleges that a nurse employed by the prison withheld emergency medical care from her son, who had a history of seizures, because of “protocols” established by the private contractor hired to provide medical care for the state’s inmates.

Xavius Scullark-Johnson, age 27, was an inmate at the state prison in Rush City, Minnesota with only three months left on his sentence. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the prison has not had 24-hour medical staff since 2002. Doctors, all of whom are employed by health contractor Corizon, Inc., only work Monday through Friday until 4:00 p.m. Nurses at the prison are state employees who work seven days a week, but their shifts end at 10:30 p.m. Corizon and MDOC closely monitor all medical-related expenses, including ambulance trips.

Scullark-Johnson reportedly suffered multiple seizures during the evening of June 28. An on-duty nurse, Linda Andrews, found him on the floor of his cell, “soaked in urine” and “in an altered state of consciousness.” She covered him and left orders to the guards to check on him regularly. Several hours later, a guard called the on-call doctor, Sharyn Barney, informing her that Scullark-Johnson had a seizure the previous evening, and that his cellmate could not wake him. She reportedly advised the guard to monitor him overnight and report his condition to the medical staff in the morning. No one had access to Scullark-Johnson’s medical records at the time because the prison health center was closed for the night. The guard called Barney again several hours later, and the doctor agreed that the guard should call for an ambulance.

Continue reading "Lawsuit Alleges Prison Nurse Denied Emergency Medical Care to Inmate." »

April 4, 2012

Sheriff's Deputy Not Liable in Maryland Stun Gun Death, Jury Says

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Taser-x26A federal jury in Baltimore returned a verdict in late January in favor of former Sheriff’s Deputy Rudy Torres, finding that he was not liable in the 2007 death of 20 year-old Jarrel Gray. While responding to a report of a fight, Torres used his electric stun gun on Gray twice. Gray died while waiting for an ambulance at the scene.

In the early morning of November 18, 2007, multiple people in a neighborhood just south of Frederick called police to report a fight. Torres responded to the call. One witness said he heard someone say “Get on the ground” and then heard a “pop noise” he recognized as a stun gun. Another witness at trial said that Gray was complying with Torres’ instructions when he used the stun gun the first time. A witness testified that he heard Gray say that his hands were on the ground.

After the first shock from the stun gun, Gray reportedly fell to the ground and did not move. He reportedly had his hands on the ground in front of him. Torres used the stun gun on Gray a second time, which Gray’s family’s attorney called “sadistic.” All parties agree that Gray was already dead by the time the ambulance arrived. The medical examiner reported that Gray died from “sudden death associated with restraint and alcohol intoxication.” According to Baltimore’s CBS affiliate WJZ, the medical examiner did not specifically identify the stun gun as the cause of death, but the stun gun was the only means of restraint included in the report.

Gray’s parents sued Torres, the Sheriff’s Department, and Frederick County for wrongful death. They alleged that Torres used excessive and unnecessary force. The suit demanded $145 million in damages.

A trial occurred in January that only addressed the Grays’ claims against Torres. Another trial against the sheriff’s office and the county may proceed at a later date. Torres argued that the use of force was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. He testified that Gray had his hands in his pants and was behaving erratically, although other witnesses reportedly contradicted that account. Torres said that the second use of the stun gun was necessary because Gray refused to show his hands.

A “law enforcement expert” retained by Torres’ defense team testified that Torres was reasonable in viewing Gray as a threat both times he used the stun gun. The expert reportedly told jurors that Gray’s lack of response after the first shock could have been an act.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of Torres on January 25, 2012. According to CBS News, the jury concluded that although Torres assaulted Gray, his use of the stun gun was a reasonable use of force to defend himself or others. Because they concluded that Torres used a reasonable amount of force, he was shielded from liability.

Continue reading "Sheriff's Deputy Not Liable in Maryland Stun Gun Death, Jury Says" »

February 27, 2012

Family of Maryland Man Who Died in Police Custody Dismisses Suit Against Police, May Still Sue Hospital

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

449966_49903379_02272012.jpgPolice went to the Greenbelt, Maryland home of Lynda Sheppard on the morning of May 26, 2010 with an arrest warrant for her son, Michael Mang. Sheppard had a protection order against her 41 year-old son and had requested a warrant for his arrest, saying he had threatened and assaulted her. Police arrested Mang, and hours later he was dead.

Police allegedly entered Sheppard’s house that morning, woke Mang, and then hit him and tasered him. Mang reportedly suffered bruising, a broken nose, and a broken rib.

Police took Mang to the hospital, where he was reportedly alert and cooperative. After several hours, though, Mang began to complain of chest pains and allegedly requested a cardiac examination. Instead, the hospital allegedly released him to police. He was reportedly held at the hospital from 5:37 a.m. to 9:20 a.m., when police took custody of him and took him to the police station. They found him lying unconscious in the station’s processing area at about 9:55 a.m. and returned him to the hospital. He was reportedly pronounced dead at the hospital at around 10:46 a.m.

An investigation by the medical examiner found evidence of alcohol consumption, but no drugs. They also found marks on his lower back that resembled taser marks. The medical examiner concluded that Mang died of natural causes stemming from a heart condition. He reportedly had a coronary blockage that raised suspicion of a heart attack.

Sheppard filed a federal lawsuit in July 2011 against the city of Greenbelt, alleging that the arresting officers caused Mang’s death by using unnecessary and unreasonable force in arresting him. The petition detailed Mang’s injuries and the timeline of events leading up to his death. She demanded $10 million in damages.

The city denied any connection between Mang’s injuries and his death. An internal police investigation concluded that the arresting officers used appropriate force against Mang because he fought back. The city’s attorney told the Greenbelt Patch that Mang’s injuries could simply have been the result of fighting with police.

Sheppard dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice on February 15, 2012. “Without prejudice” means that she can re-file the claim within the original statute of limitations. The Greenbelt police chief described the suit as frivolous and said that the internal investigation vindicated the city’s defense to the suit, that Mang’s injuries at the hands of police did not cause his death.

Continue reading "Family of Maryland Man Who Died in Police Custody Dismisses Suit Against Police, May Still Sue Hospital" »

January 2, 2012

Legislator Awarded $50,000 in Suit for Damages Caused by Tight Handcuffs

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

1156821_34132110_01022012.jpgA Pennsylvania state legislator from Philadelphia, Jewell Williams, has received an award of $50,000 from a jury in a lawsuit over injuries he sustained in 2009 when police unlawfully detained him. He claimed that “excessively tight handcuffs” caused nerve damage to his wrist and thumb. He further claimed that police violated his constitutional rights by detaining him after he questioned police officers about stopping two elderly men. A spokesperson for Williams said the jury agreed with Williams’ constitutional claim. An attorney for the City of Philadelphia told the media, however, that Williams had previously rejected a settlement offer of $65,000. Williams, for his part, may prefer the vindication in court to any specific dollar amount.

Williams has served as the Democratic representative for District 197 in Philadelphia since 2001. He previously worked as a Temple University police officer. He was elected sheriff of the city of Philadelphia in November 2011 and will take office shortly. The lawsuit arose from an incident in March 2009, when Williams says he tried to assist two “elderly constituents” during a traffic stop. Williams alleged that he saw police pull over a gray Volvo that police said resembled a car used in a drug buy several blocks away. Williams witnessed the stop from several car lengths back while driving home, and eventually got out of his vehicle to intervene.

Williams says he watched one police officer order the driver, whom Williams described as elderly and frail, out of the vehicle. The officer placed the man’s money on the hood of the car. When the man tried to grab at the money as it blew away, the officer alleged shoved him against the car and cuffed him. The man then complained that the cuffs were too tight, and the officer allegedly threatened something to the effect of taking the man to the hospital. A passenger in the Volvo, also described as elderly, was detained by the other officer. This is when Williams got out of his car and approached the officers.

Two more officers had arrived at the scene at this point. Williams says he identified himself as a state legislator, but that the officers yelled profanity at him when telling him to return to his vehicle. Police cuffed him and pushed him into the back of one of the cruisers, telling him he was under arrest for disorderly conduct. Police did not find any drugs in the Volvo or on either person from the Volvo. Police released Williams and the other two men shortly thereafter.

Continue reading "Legislator Awarded $50,000 in Suit for Damages Caused by Tight Handcuffs" »

August 11, 2011

Federal Lawsuit Against ICE Accuses Anne Arundel County Police of Police Brutality During 2008 Immigration Raid in Maryland

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Two families have filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over a 2008 immigration raid targeting Annapolis Painting Services. The plaintiffs are alleging police brutality and the violation of their civil rights and they are seeking $2.5 million in damages.

With the help of immigrant advocacy group CASA de Maryland, spouses Pablo Alvarado and Ingrid Munoz and siblings Elizabeth Gallegos-Torres and Natalia Pelaez-Torres have filed their complaint in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. All of the plaintiffs live in Annapolis.

On June 30, 2008, 75 federal agents and dozens of Anne Arundel County cops rounded up workers that they suspected were undocumented. More than a dozen homes, as well as the Annapolis Painting Services offices, were raided.

The plaintiffs, who say they sustained severe emotional distress, claim that during the raid. armed officers went into homes without probable cause, consent, or a proper warrant. They also contend that they were:

• Woken up in the middle of the night with shouts and banging on doors.
• Grabbed and pushed while they were detained and searched.
• Bullied and threatened.
• Handcuffed or shackled.
• Detained for weeks without being notified that they had the right to speak to a lawyer.

It is important for the public to know that police brutality or any other type of excessive use of force by a law enforcement official is against the law and may be a violation of that person’s civil rights.

Granted, situations where altercations and/or arrests are involved can get out of hand or confusing. It doesn’t matter. If you believe that you were a victim of Maryland police brutality, you should speak with an experienced Anne Arundel personal injury law firm immediately.

Families File Federal Lawsuit in 2008 Immigration Raid, Greater Annapolis Patch, August 9, 2011

Immigrant group sues ICE agents, Hometown Annapolis, August 9, 2011

Related Web Resources:

CASA de Maryland

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

More Blog Posts:
$10M Montgomery County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Accuses Police of Excessive Use of Force, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 29, 2011

Columbia Man Files Third Lawsuit Against Police Alleging Howard County Police Brutality, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 19, 2011

Arnold Man Convicted of Hindering Cop Who Shot Him Plans to File Anne Arundel County Personal Injury Lawsuit, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 10, 2010

March 29, 2011

$10M Montgomery County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Accuses Police of Excessive Use of Force

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

The family of Emmanuel O. Okutuga wants the Montgomery County Police Department to pay them $10 million for his Maryland wrongful death. The 26-year-old Bowie State University student was fatally shot by police in Silver Spring outside the City Place Mall on February 19.

Officer Christopher Jordan had gone to the mall after reports that Okutuga had assaulted a security guard. Police say that Jordan shot Okutuga twice after the latter refused to drop the ice pick he was wielding.

Okutuga’s family contends that the shooting was unjustified. In their Montgomery County police brutality complaint, they say that witnesses testified that he did not advance on the officer or threaten him or any civilians who were there.

The plaintiffs claim that the police department did not properly train Jordan on how to use deadly force and that he shouldn’t have been allowed to handle this type of call. The family’s lawyer says that Jordan’s original statement doesn’t contain any information indicating that the situation warranted the “level of force" that he employed.

All recruits for the police department have to go through 160 hours of training on how to use force when they are trained at the Montgomery County Police Academy. The police department ranks use of force into four tiers:

• Implied force with an officer’s presence
• Verbal commands
• Physical action
• Use of deadly force

Police should never use excessive and/or unnecessary force when apprehending a suspect. Unfortunately, incidents such as the one described above are not as rare an occurrence as we’d like to think. In some instances, a police officer was just trying to do his/her job. At other times, a cop is abusing his/her authority. Either way, excessive use of force can cause serious injuries and death. They also can be grounds for a Maryland civil case.

Per the Montgomery County Police Department’s police, Jordan was put on paid administrative leave while an investigation into Okutuga’s shooting is conducted.

Family of slain man files $10 million lawsuit against Montgomery County Police, Gazette.net, March 26, 2011

Family Sues Montgomery County Police For Shooting, WUSA9, March 24, 2011

Related Web Resource:
Montgomery County Police Department

More Blog Posts:

Columbia Man Files Third Lawsuit Against Police Alleging Howard County Police Brutality, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 19, 2011

Prince George’s County and Frederick County Settle Maryland Injury Lawsuits, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 5, 2010

$10 Million Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blames Baltimore County Police for Taser Fatality, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 12, 2010

February 19, 2011

Columbia Man Files Third Lawsuit Against Police Alleging Howard County Police Brutality

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Last year, our Baltimore Maryland accident lawyers reported on the story of Melvin Yates, a Columbia man who filed a $50 million federal lawsuit suing Howard County, Police Chief William McMahon, and three officers for civil rights violations and including police brutality. A federal court dismissed that his case twice—once, says ExploreHoward.com, because Yates’s Maryland injury lawyer did not counter a dismissal motion submitted by Howard County attorneys. The lawsuit was filed again and also dismissed because it was almost identical to the first one and the same complaint cannot be filed twice in federal court.

Now, Yates is trying again. This time, he is filing his Maryland police brutality lawsuit in Howard County Circuit Court.

Yates, who is in his early 20’s, claims that cops beat him at his dad’s memorial party last April. Yates’s dad had died in a Maryland motorcycle accident. Police were called to the party after a fight broke out.

Yates contends that he wasn’t involved in the brawl and actually tried to leave the party but that a cop stopped him. He says he cooperated with the police but that they assaulted him. Yates suffered a concussion, chipped his tooth, as well as sustained bruises, cuts, and a black eye. In his federal lawsuit, he accused Howard County police of battery, civil rights violations, false imprisonment, poor training, and inadequate hiring.

Last October, a jury found Yates guilty of failing to obey a cop and disorderly conduct during his arrest. However, they found him innocent of assaulting a cop and of resisting arrest.

Yates files third lawsuit against Howard County police, ExploreHoward, February 16, 2011

Columbia Man Files $50 Million Maryland Police Brutality Lawsuit Against Howard County Police, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 16, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Howard County Police Department

Shielded from Justice, Police Brutality in the US, HRW.org

More Blog Posts:
Arnold Man Convicted of Hindering Cop Who Shot Him Plans to File Anne Arundel County Personal Injury Lawsuit, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 10, 2010

$10 Million Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blames Baltimore County Police for Taser Fatality, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 10, 2010

$10 Million Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blames Baltimore County Police for Taser Fatality, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 12, 2010

June 16, 2010

Columbia Man Files $50 Million Maryland Police Brutality Lawsuit Against Howard County Police

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

Melvin Yates is suing the government of Howard County, Police Chief William McMahon, and three officers for $50 million. In his federal lawsuit, the 23-year-old is accusing the officers of beating him until he became semiconscious at his father’s memorial party last April.

According to Yates, on April 10 police were called to the memorial party that Yates was holding for his father, who died in a motorcycle crash last year, because a fight broke out. Yates claims he was not involved in the disagreement and that he actually tried to leave the party because he was upset that his guests were disrespecting his father’s memory with their dispute. It was then that a police officer stopped him from leaving, several cops surrounded him, and he was told that he was going to jail.

In his Howard County police brutality complaint, Yates contends that he cooperated with the police officers, who handcuffed him, but that a number of police officers started shoving him against a vehicle, using objects to hit him on the head, and kicking and punching him. The 23-year-old’s allegations are contrary to police claims that he resisted arrest and pushed and grabbed the officers. Their charging documents maintain that they followed police procedure.

Yates’s Maryland injury lawyer says that her client sustained a concussion, bruises, a chipped tooth, a black eye, and cuts during the alleged police beating and that there are more than 10 witnesses who will support his claims. Yates’s sister reportedly captured a portion of the alleged police brutality incident on her phone’s camera.

Yates says he has tried to press assault charges against the police officers but he has been told that he lacks “probable cause.” His federal lawsuit accuses Howard County’s police department of civil rights violations, battery, false imprisonment, inadequate hiring practices, and poor training.

Maryland Police Brutality
Excessive use of police force is a serious problem. Many victims of Maryland police brutality don't realize that their rights have been violated and are too scared to come forward. You may have grounds for a Maryland injury case.

Columbia man files $50 million suit against police, Explore Howard, June 16, 2010

Maryland Police Brutality: Columbia man files $50M lawsuit for beating, Top Wire News, June 16, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Howard County Police Department

Police Brutality and Misconduct

June 10, 2010

Arnold Man Convicted of Hindering Cop Who Shot Him Plans to File Anne Arundel County Personal Injury Lawsuit

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

An Arnold man who was shot by police during an altercation at his home last July plans to file an Anne Arundel County police brutality lawsuit. Michael A. Housley was acquitted by a jury of the charge that he assaulted police officers and other related charges. He was, however, found guilty of two counts of obstructing a police officer. The 52-year-old defendant plans to seek a new trial.

On July 12, three cops were asked by Anne Arundel Medical Center to go to his home to check on Housley’s wife, Leah Housley, who left the center even though doctors hadn’t discharged her yet. Housley had taken her there because he was worried that had taken too much prescription medication. The couple says that they went home several hours after she was admitted because she was feeling better.

When the police officers arrived at their residence, Housley refused let them in without paperwork and contacted 911. Meantime, Leah told the officers she would come out but that she needed to place the family dog in the bathroom first.

The police officers forced their way into the Housley’s home by kicking in a glass kitchen door. They then subdued Michael, who was unarmed, with a Taser and pepper spray. When he brandished a chair at a police officer, he was then shot in the shoulder and neck. Michael was treated at Shock Trauma for his injuries.

Excessive Use of Police Force
Police must never use excessive force without just cause. If you suspect that your injuries were caused by unjustified use of police force, you may have grounds for a Maryland injury lawsuit.

Arnold man shot by officer convicted of hindering police, Baltimore Sune, June 4, 2010

Officer Shoots Man Threatening Partner With Chair, WBAL TV, July 13, 2009

April 5, 2010

Prince George’s County and Frederick County Settle Maryland Injury Lawsuits

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

If you’ve been the victim of police brutality or police negligence, there are legal remedies that allow you to seek Maryland personal injury compensation. Many victims of police violence or negligence are too scared to report the incident for fear of repercussion or because they are unaware that what happened to them was wrong. As with other negligent parties that cause injuries or deaths, law enforcement officers can be held liable for their reckless actions.

Recently, the family of Justin Lihvarcik settled its Maryland wrongful death lawsuit accusing Frederick County police of negligence. On June 10, 2009, Lihvarcik, who was 26 at the time, was placed in a holding cell at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center at around 2:30am after he was charged with second-degree assault during a dispute with his girlfriend. At around 5:30am, correctional officers found him hanging from the top bunk. He had used his shoelaces to make a noose.

In her Frederick County wrongful death complaint, Lihvarcik’s mother, Nancy Fether, accused the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office of neglect.

Following an investigation, two correctional officers were disciplined and policy changes were made so that shoelaces can no longer be taken into holding cells. Officers tasked with checking on inmates must now sign a checkoff sheet at the end of each hallway.

In other Maryland news, a Prince George’s County police brutality lawsuit was recently settled with the victim Rafel A. Rodriguez. The county agreed to pay $125,000 to the 31-year-old.

Rodriguez has accused Cpl. Scott Wilson and Cpl. John Wynkoop of committing police violence against him at College Park in 2008 and making a false arrest. The cops had detained him because they thought his vehicle had an illegal blue-tinted turn-signal light.

Video footage from a device in the vehicle captures the cops making fun of the plaintiff’s El Salvadorean accent, pulling Rodriguez out of the car, slamming him against the vehicle, cuffing him, spraying him with pepper spray, and striking him several times on the head with a baton. Even though Rodriguez didn’t try to hit the cops, they charged him with two counts of assault.

Prince George's to pay man who accused police of assault, The Washington Post, March 12, 2010

Parties reach $50,000 settlement in hanging at jail, FrederickNewsPost, March 23, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office

Prince George’s County Police Department

March 12, 2010

$10 Million Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blames Baltimore County Police for Taser Fatality

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

The family of Ryan Meyers is suing Baltimore County police and three cops for Maryland wrongful death. They are seeking $10 million in compensation and alleging negligence and police brutality.

Meyers is bipolar. The 40-year-old died after cops, who arrived at his parents' home following a 911 call, tasered him. Meyers had been allegedly using a baseball bat to attack people, and his father was injured.

According to the officers, they tasered him because he ignored their order to put down the bat. Meyers went down but then got up and allegedly tried to attack them. They managed to handcuff him and then saw that he was unresponsive. He went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Meyer’s family believes that the police officers could have used less force to apprehend him.

Taser Injuries
According to one study published in 2006 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation, even though getting struck by a Taser won’t likely cause cardiac arrest, it is recommended that Taser darts not be fired close to the heart. Seeing as this study was funded by Taser International, the manufacturer has known about this possible risk from some time.

Another man, Steven Butler, went into immediate cardiac arrest after he was tasered by cops. EMT’s were able to revive him, but his brain didn't get oxygen for such a long time that he is now permanently disabled. He and his family are suing Taser International for products liability.

In the last six years, there have been 8 Maryland taser deaths involving police. The stun gun shoots about 50,000 volts of electricity into the skin and is considered a less lethal alternative to shooting someone. However, medical experts say that getting struck near the chest by a Taser dart can make the target’s heartbeat go from 72 beats per minute to up to 220 beats a minute.

Meantime, Taser maintains that its electronic control device is safe for use.

Family Sues Police After Fatal Taser Shot, WJZ, March 5, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Baltimore County Police

February 3, 2010

Harford County and Its Sheriff’s Office are Defendants in $145 Million Maryland Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleging Police Brutality

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

The family of Dwight Jerome Madison is suing Harford County and the Harford County Sheriff's Office for Maryland wrongful death. Madison, 48, died after police threw him in jail last June. His family is alleging wrongful arrest and police brutality. They are seeking $145 million from the defendants.

According to the Maryland police brutality lawsuit, Madison was arrested on June 11, 2009 just hours after police stopped him in Bel Air. The 48-year-old was let go after he told them he was looking for a friend in the area. Police officer followed him and arrested him for trespassing. He was transported to the Harford County Detention Center.

Police claim that Madison asked to be arrested so he would have some place to go. They then contend that while in custody, he became uncooperative and grabbed and choked one of the guards. Police TASERed Madison, who fell and struck his head.

The Maryland wrongful death lawsuit claims that the following day, a civilian jail worker and three corrections officers assaulted Madison, who had a severe head injury. Even though it was allegedly obvious to those involved that Madison was dying, they continued to Taser him, causing his death. Madison died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore on June 13.

The family’s wrongful death lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, says the corrections employees and deputies directly caused his wrongful death and violated his legal rights. It also alleges that the defendants have consistently engaged in “condoning its officers’ pervasive misconduct and abuse of authority.”

Arresting someone without just cause and using excessive force to detain them are both possible grounds for suing the police for Maryland personal injury.

Even if you did break the law, police must still uphold your civil rights. Unfortunately, many people are too scared to speak out for fear of repercussions.

$145 million wrongful death lawsuit filed against county, sheriff's office, Explore Harford, February 2, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Read the Police Press Release, Harford Sheriff, June 13, 2009

Harford County, Maryland

January 12, 2010

Baltimore Man Sues Anne Arundel County Police Department and Officer for False Arrest

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

A 38-year-old Baltimore man has filed a civil rights violation lawsuit accusing Anne Arundel County police of violating his civil rights when they arrested and imprisoned him without just case. Melvin B. Thomas says he was falsely arrested on January 17 for asking “What about freedom of the press?” after officers apprehended his friend for using a cell phone to videotape cops handcuffing spectators following a Glen Burnie boxing event when some people became rowdy.

Thomas says he and his friend, 32-year-old Pasadena resident Leshon C. Ruffin, were the only two people who were thrown in jail where he stayed for 12 hours. Now, he is seeking $30,000 in damages.

Cpl. Russell Hewitt III, who is a defendant in the Maryland false arrest lawsuit, claims in charging documents that Ruffin was apprehended for trying to approach officers while they were doing their job. He says he arrested Thomas because he was causing a disturbance with his yelling.

Thomas’s attorney, however, says that Thomas and Ruffin were behaving in a nondisruptive manner while others around them were shouting out profanities. All charges against the two men were dropped. Thomas has said that because he and his friend are black he thinks race was a factor. Two white people that also were handcuffed were released at the scene.

Thomas's Maryland civil rights violation lawsuit is seeking $30,000 in damages.

Maryland False Arrest Lawsuit
A police officer who has violated a person’s civil rights can be sued for damages. Making false arrests, wrongful imprisonment, excessive use of force, verbal abuse, harassment, torture, intimidating tactics, and sexual assaulting a suspect or prisoner can be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the offending police officer, his/her police department, and possibly even the city or the county where the violation took place.

You don’t have to be afraid about coming forward if you were the victim of Maryland police brutality or were falsely arrested without just cause.

Man sues county police for arrest, HometownGlenburnie.com, January 2, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Anne Arundel County

False Arrests, Convictions and Imprisonments, New York Times

Continue reading "Baltimore Man Sues Anne Arundel County Police Department and Officer for False Arrest " »

October 24, 2009

$261,000 Prince George’s County Police Brutality Verdict Awarded to Woman

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

A Maryland jury has awarded a Greenbelt woman a $261,000 Prince George’s County police brutality verdict. Kimberly Jones says sheriff’s deputies forced their way into her residence, assaulted her, and maced her.

The alleged Prince George’s County, Maryland personal injury incident occurred on September 15, 2006. Jones, 35, woke up to the sound of knocking. She put on a robe and slightly opened the door. Two Prince George's County sheriff deputies, Gerald Henderson and Billy Falby, allegedly forced their way in without a warrant.

Not only did the two men allegedly assault her, but they are accused of making her change into dirty clothes at the arrest scene without making sure a female deputy was there to help her. A neighbor, who would later testify in court, called 911 to report seeing the two deputies assault Jones.

Jones was charged with assaulting a cop. She was let go from her job because of the arrest and since then, hasn’t been able to obtain work involving children. The criminal charge against her was eventually dropped.

According to Reason.com, the cops had entered the wrong house. The officers accused of the alleged Maryland police brutality have said they were just following instructions.

The jury agreed that the two men did follow Prince George's County Sheriff's Department protocol. However, they found that the procedures were unconstitutional.

This is not the first incident involving alleged police misconduct by Prince George's County cops. According to the Washington Post, from 2000 – 2006 some 800,000 people have received approximately $16.3 million in police brutality compensation from the county.

Excessive use of force by police is a crime. Injury victims may be entitled to Maryland police brutality recovery. If you were beaten, verbally abused, sexually assaulted, arrested without just cause, or feel that police violated your civil rights in another way, you should speak with a Maryland injury lawyer.

Greenbelt woman wins $261,000 lawsuit against Maryland, Gazette.net, October 1, 2009

Failing His Way to Higher Office, Reason Magazine, October 12, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Prince George's County Maryland, Office of the Sheriff's

Survey: ER doctors suspect excessive police force, USA Today, January 7, 2009

Top 5 Police Brutality Videos, The Huffington Post, July 30, 2009