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Crime & Justiceby Mark Reutter5:26 pmJan 11, 20210

Baltimore to award $550,000 to man who suffered traumatic brain injury during arrest

Injured by police responding to a report of open-air drug dealing, a 59-year-old wins a large cash settlement

In the first police settlement of the new year, the Board of Estimates is set to award $550,000 on Wednesday to a man who suffered traumatic brain injury after he was tackled by police in Northwest Baltimore.

Eric Jones, now 59, was taken to Sinai Hospital in 2014 after he was thrown down while in the custody of police investigating a mid-afternoon, drug-buying gathering on the 5200 block of Denmore Avenue near Park Heights and Belvedere avenues.

After receiving a 911 call describing a slim-built man, dressed in all black, dealing drugs to about 35 people, Police Officers Joshua Jordan and Russell J. Tonks scoured the surrounding blocks for the dealer, who had disappeared up an alley, according to court records.

They soon detained Eric Jones, a part-time plumber, for questioning.

Denying any involvement with drugs, Jones said he walked away, only to be tackled by Jordan and hit by a fist or baton after he was on the ground, rendering him unconscious.

The two officers agreed that Jones was “taken down,” but only after he had tried to flee and tried to strike Jordan, they said in depositions.

Arrested on seven counts of drug possession, second-degree assault and resisting arrest, Jones was taken to Sinai Hospital for treatment of “facial abrasions,” according to the police. In fact, he had suffered hemorrhages and contusions of the brain that required surgery.

While he reportedly tested positive for cocaine in his bloodstream and drugs were allegedly found in his socks, all charges against Jones were later dropped.

The defendant filed a lawsuit in 2016 in U.S. District Court, saying his constitutional rights were violated by the officers and then-Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.

Negative Ruling

Since then, the case has undergone various proceedings before Judge George L. Russell III, who has called out several discrepancies in the officers’ testimony, but also said key facts in the case remained under dispute.

Russell dismissed last July the claim by the city that the two officers (Tonks had left the force, Jordan remains) were entitled to limited immunity.

In Russell’s words, the officers’ actions “amounted to an immediate detention and arrest of the plaintiff, which effectively violated his civil and constitutional rights from the moment they began to order him to obey their instructions.”

Faced with this ruling and “the potential for an excess judgment” in a jury trial, the city law department recommended the $550,000 settlement in return for Jones dropping his suit.

Injuries from Open Manhole

The Board of Estimates is also scheduled on Wednesday to approve a $55,000 settlement to a woman who tumbled into an open manhole on Jeffrey Street in Brooklyn on April 24, 2016.

The fall damaged the cartilage in her right knee and required two surgeries, according to the BOE agenda released this afternoon.

The agenda does not elaborate on how the manhole became uncovered.

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