More police settlements to cost Baltimore taxpayers $270,000

Cases before BOE tomorrow involve a strip search for drugs and a car crash that permanently injured a motorcyclist.

bpd seal at headquarters

Seal of Baltimore Police Department at its headquarters building.

Photo by: BPD Quartermaster Unit

The Board of Estimates is expected to approve tomorrow the settlement of two more lawsuits by citizens against Baltimore City Police.

Westley Williams and Shaney Pendleton will be paid $155,000 to settle their suit against three officers who they said illegally searched their car, strip-searched Williams for drugs and threw Pendleton on the ground.

In the second suit, a motorcyclist permanently injured when a police car failed to yield to oncoming traffic will be paid $115,000.

Between mid-2007 and mid-2010, the city has spent more than $10 million to settle police misconduct and related cases.

A summary of the two latest cases were released by the law department to The Brew at our request.

Looking for Illegal Drugs

The first incident took place on May 13, 2008 when Officers Fabien Laronde, Michael Lash and Carnest McDuffie observed Williams exiting a car with what appeared to be a plastic baggie.

When Williams saw the plainclothes officers approach his car, he got back into the vehicle and refused to show his hands to the officers.

The police then removed him from the car, drew their weapons and, according to Williams, strip-searched him on the street. (The city concedes that the officers “searched him for drugs or weapons including looking into his shorts.”)

The officers found a plastic baggie in the vehicle that contained a white powder that “later tested negative for CDS [controlled dangerous substance].”

During this period, Shaney Pendleton was reportedly screaming and laying on the car horn. When Officer Lash ordered her to stop, she jumped out of the car and ran down the street, pursued by Officer Lash, who “took her to the ground.”

The couple, whose two children were in the backseat of the car, said they were unaware that the men were undercover officers and said they were terrified. They were arrested on several charges, all later dropped by the state’s attorney’s office.

Because of “conflicting factual accounts and legal concerns including whether there was probable cause to search the vehicle or to effectuate an arrest,” the law department negotiated a settlement to end the couple’s lawsuit that claimed false imprisonment, assault and civil right violations, and asked for $9 million in compensatory damages.

Crash in Northeast Baltimore

In the second case, Officer Keith Tate “was following a possible CDS violator through an alley” in the late morning on August 31, 2011, when he made a turn onto Beaufort Avenue without stopping and struck a motorcycle driven by Corey Norris.

“The claimant suffered permanent injury as well as incurred medical expenses and lost wages,” the summary reported, which the $115,000 settlement will help cover.

The city has spent $10.4 million in the last three fiscal years to defend against police lawsuits brought by citizens, according to testimony at the City Council last fall.

Earlier this month, the city paid $95,000 to a 90-year-old retired school principal who was handcuffed by police in a 2009 incident.

City Solicitor George Nilson has said the costs would be substantially higher if the city opted to go to trial and depend on jury verdicts.

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  • glsever

    Why doesn’t the city have a liability insurance policy for this stuff?

    • Lex Apostata

      The city has to self-insure. Among the reasons: if you were an insurance company, would YOU insure the BPD? I sure as hell wouldn’t. I have no idea what passes for “training” for BPD officers these days, but between the training and the culture, the police force is itself increasingly lawless. That lawlessness is costing the city a lot of money.

      And the BPD can’t fill the vacancies it has. Were I the mayor, I would be screaming at the Commissioner to fire these bad apple en mass, but there are some practical problems with that — who are you going to replace them with?

      The BPD is one of the last places where a person with a high school diploma can earn in the six figures, but for some reason the city only seems to be able to fill its ranks if it hires thugs, bullies, and criminals.

  • Unellu

    Morons–these guys are morons.  They are on edge.  Every packet of white powder is cocaine, every person is nefarious unless otherwise proven, even the old and nearly dead have to be handcuffed and harassed–what’s the matter with Baltimore’s men in blue?  Whatever happened to community policing, befriending the neighborhood,  getting to know the people you must protect?  The public needs protection from the protectors.  Citizens are plagued by criminals and then they are plagued by the police who have taken on the hue, the tactics and the impetuosity of the criminals–the line between the thief and the thief catcher is blurring.     

  • anon.e.mouse

    I was assaulted and battered by a police woman who objected to me taking a picture of her empty police car, which was illegally parked. Still waiting on the mediation for this case which happened in January 2011. She pleaded out in the criminal court case, and is awaiting legal action with the police, and is still on the force. I had to move out of my old ‘hood because the police attended the church next door to my house. It changed my whole life and I am not happy about it. BTW, I am a 50 year old white woman with no criminal background, although that shouldn’t really matter.

  • Unellu

    anon.e.mouse my sympathies.  Keep up the good work and don’t lose hope.  Good luck with your case.  Again the line between the assaulting forces and the assault prevention forces is blurring.  I am convinced criminals join the police to cover up their criminal tendencies just like pedophiles join the Catholic Church.  Criminality is always in search of legitimacy and since we automatically revere certain institutions and organizations, and professions they provide the perfect hiding spots for our psychopaths.  Politics is one such profession.  It goes under the misnomer-public service.

  • Lisa Simeone

    Middle-class and upper-middle-class people are finally discovering what the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised, the foreign have known for decades:  the police can abuse you with impunity.  And if anyone ends up paying — big “if” — it’s us the taxpayers.

    We are increasing living in a police state, but people don’t want to acknowledge it.  The assaults going on at the airports, which millions of sheeple think are just fine, as long as it doesn’t happen to them, the brutality against Occupy protesters all over the country, the increasing militarization of the police, the passage of the NDAA, the criminalization of dissent — these are the actions of a police state.  And they prove an old saying:  that which we visit upon the weakest among us eventually will be visited upon ourselves.  Yet this country refuses to learn.

  • Florida Inpatient Treatment

    Great, the War on Drugs costing taxpayers even more!  What are we going to have to show for all of this money spent?  Is drug crime actually going to go down?  Are we actually going to have fewer incidences of addiction?  I doubt it…

  • trueheart4life

    I’d like an answer to the same question asked by States Attorney Bernstein on the Marc Steiner show this afternoon when he was discussing the Anthony Anderson murder ~ Are there written procedures/guidelines governing policing practices and encounters with the public?

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