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Jury Awards $100,000 Excessive Force Verdict Against Two Former Baltimore Police Officers for Beating Innocent Minor

Late on Friday, August 22, a Baltimore jury returned a $100,000 verdict against two former Baltimore police officers for beating a 16 year-old boy. Plainclothes officers in an unmarked car encountered the boy walking beside a family member’s home in the Park Heights neighborhood in the early morning hours of July 10, 2010.

The plaintiff’s case was that the Caucasian officers provoked the young African American boy to run by shouting racial epithets and other insults at him. When he ran in fear, two officers chased the child to the rear of his family’s home, where the plaintiff testified that he was savagely beaten, punched, kicked, choked and handcuffed. The boy was slightly built, 5’4” and approximately 120 pounds at the time.

Three independent witnesses testified that they saw the officers beat the minor. After two of the witnesses were seen by officers, the beating victim was handcuffed and transported to a different location approximately 3 blocks away, where he was searched and released without charges.

In closing argument, the plaintiff’s counsel, Cary J. Hansel, of the Greenbelt law firm, Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, argued that the minor was moved as part of a cover up so that when supervisors responded to the minor’s new location, there would be no witnesses there to the attack.

The officers, who were with the now-disbanded Violent Crimes Impact Division, used the incident as a pretext to search and interrogate the boy about any crime in the area. He had no such information to provide them and the search turned up no contraband.

The former officers found liable were Kody Taylor and Matthew Sarver. Both left the department after the events underlying the lawsuit. At trial, Taylor took the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying about the circumstances surrounding his departure from the Baltimore Police Department in the face of an integrity sting. The sting resulted in allegations that Taylor was involved with pocketing money recovered from an undercover officer posing as an arrestee.

Hansel, who is well-known for his police misconduct work, including a 2006 verdict that remains the highest civil rights verdict ever collected in Maryland, had this to say, “The jury restored one brave young man’s dignity while protecting all of our rights. My office will continue this fight until these abuses stop once and for all.”

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