The Owings Mill mother of Damon D. Smith, the Maryland man who committed suicide by jumping from the top of Mercy Hospital, is suing the Baltimore Police Department for wrongful death. Hazella White’s lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages from the police department, the city of Baltimore, and Officer Wilbert Perez.
On October 26, 2007, Smith crashed his motor vehicle on Interstate 795 and was picked up by Maryland state police. A police check determined that Baltimore police were looking for the 27-year-old in connection to his ex-girlfriend Veronica Fludd’s murder. Smith also appeared to have self-inflected injuries.
According to White’s Maryland wrongful death lawsuit, Officer Perez knew that Smith was suicidal yet loosened his restraints before he went to the bathroom. The complaint also contends that Perez had been working too many hours in a row and should have called medical workers.
As a result of defendant Perez’s actions of alleged gross neglect, the lawsuit says Smith was able to free himself and jump from a window off the hospital’s 10th floor on October 28, 2007.
The Baltimore Police Department disciplined the officers who had Smith in their custody. White’s wrongful death lawyer says this action shows that the police department acknowledges a breakdown in protocols that led to Smith’s suicide.
Perez and Sgt Carrie Everett maintain they did nothing wrong. In September 2008, the Baltimore Sun reported that the two men believed they had been wrongly disciplined based on a rule for violations that are no specified. Perez claimed the protocols were flawed. The two men were later disciplined for talking to the media.
Law enforcement officers are supposed to exercise a certain duty of care when doing their jobs. When police negligence causes injury or death, a police officer, the police department, and/or the city where the police department is located may be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death.
Examples of Police Negligence Include:
• Conducting an improper investigation.
• Making an arrest or identifying a suspect with insufficient evidence or the wrong evidence.
• Police brutality.
• Failure to properly supervise detainees.
• Improper arrest procedures.
Police sued over suicide, Baltimore Sun, December 9, 2008
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