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

Police 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.

Sheppard has stated that she may file suit for wrongful death against the hospital that treated Mang. She must first submit the case to an arbitration panel that considers any Maryland medical malpractice claims over $25,000.

This case involves two possible theories of causation: negligence or intentional tortious conduct by police, and medical malpractice. Police have a duty to use reasonable force in carrying out their duties, and the law allows people injured due to unnecessary use of force to claim damages from the police. Doctors have a duty to provide safe and diligent medical care, and they are held to a very high standard under the law. If Mang’s death resulted from a failure to perform requested cardiac tests, rather than injuries sustained during his arrest, then the hospital could be liable.

The Maryland personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at pursuing justice for people injured due to the negligence or illegal acts of others. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Legislator Awarded $50,000 in Suit for Damages Caused by Tight Handcuffs, Maryland Accident Law Blog, January 2, 2012
Federal Lawsuit Against ICE Accuses Anne Arundel County Police of Police Brutality During 2008 Immigration Raid in Maryland, Maryland Accident Law Blog, August 11, 2011
$10M Montgomery County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Accuses Police of Excessive Use of Force, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 29, 2011

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