Pa. Man Settles Assault Lawsuit Against Md. State Police
BEL AIR, Md. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man has agreed to a $10,000 settlement of his lawsuit accusing Maryland State Police officers of roughing him up after he raced past a traffic stop on his motorcycle.
The Daily Record of Baltimore reported the settlement amount Thursday. Michael Bixler’s lawsuit had asked for $4 million, $1 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages.
Bixler was charged with 10 traffic citations including driving while under the influence as a result of the 2009 incident in Harford County. He pleaded guilty to eluding and escaping police officers and was sentenced to a year in jail with 11 months suspended.
The Daily Record reports the settlement amount was not disclosed when it was approved in federal court in January. Maryland State Police provided the settlement amount to the paper on Thursday.
The incident that led to Bixler’s lawsuit began, Bixler said in his June 2012 complaint, when he passed a speed trap on northbound Route 136 in Harford County while on a family outing. A trooper waved him over, but Bixler drove by and went faster after “hearing a noise like a gunshot close behind him,” according to the lawsuit.
Bixler alleged he was discovered hiding in a wooded area, and after he was handcuffed a trooper allegedly broke his sunglasses and a ringing cellphone. After Bixler began wiggling his hands to help ease the pain from the handcuffs he was ordered to put his head against a patrol car, and the trooper allegedly punched him several times in the face. Other officers threw him into a nearby ditch, Bixler alleged.
The department’s version of the story is that Bixler was driving 72 mph in a 40-mph zone when a trooper attempted to stop him. They say they later found Bixler riding on a motorcycle driven by his father and arrested Bixler. According to police he was intoxicated and fell into a ditch. When an officer removed a handcuff, Bixler allegedly resisted a trooper’s attempt to reapply it. Police say the trooper tried to use a palm strike on Bixler’s neck but instead, because of his position, delivered two or three “open palm strikes to the left side of Bixler’s face.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)