Two recent Maryland lawsuits have brought the topic of police brutality to the media forefront. Last week, a judge ruled that teenager Eric Bush can sue the city of Baltimore for Maryland personal injury even though he had missed the deadline for letting the city know he intended to sue. The judge said Bush showed good cause for why his notice that there would be a lawsuit was late.
Bush became a YouTube star after footage of Officer Salvatore Rivieri putting the then-14-year-old skateboarder in a headlock and chastising him for calling the cop “dude” was posted on the popular Web site. The altercation took place in 2007 at the Inner Harbor.
Bush says he never heard Rivieri give him an order about skateboarding. Rivieri, a police veteran, was suspended after the video footage of the incident was brought to the Baltimore police Department’s attention.
In another Maryland police brutality lawsuit, US District Judge William D. Quarles says the wrongful death case involving a man shocked with a Taser by a Frederick County Sheriff’s deputy can move forward against Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and the Frederick County Board of Commissioners.
Jarrel Gray died in November 2007 after he was Tasered by Corporal Rudy Torres, who had arrived at the scene of a fight that the 20-year-old was involved in. The Frederick County deputy reportedly used the weapon to stun Gray twice in 23 seconds. The 20-year-old died several hours after the incident.
Quarles had previously dismissed all defendants from the $145 million Frederick County wrongful death case except for Torres. Following the amended complaint by Grey’s family, however, the judge decided that the claims against the other defendants can also move forward. The civil lawsuit seeks compensation based on several counts, including civil rights violations, wrongful death, police brutality, negligent supervision, and inadequate training.
The use of Tasers has been criticized by civil rights groups for the many times the supposedly non-lethal weapons have been misused, causing injury or death, to their targets.
Law enforcement officers are forbidden from using unnecessary or excessive force when dealing with suspects or other members of the public. Acts of police brutality can be grounds for a Maryland personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit.
Judge OKs Teen’s Lawsuit Against Officer, WBALTV.com, December 11, 2008
Judge reinstates Frederick County sheriff and commissioners in Taser lawsuit, Gazette.net, December 12, 2008
Mother ‘Furious’ After Officer-Teen YouTube Encounter, WBALTV, February 13, 2008
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