BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The allegations revealed in a Baltimore Sun investigation. They involve people who suffered broken bones, head trauma and even death—allegedly after altercations with city police.
Mike Hellgren, in partnership with the Sun, takes you inside these troubling cases.
For years, Baltimore City police have grappled with excessive force complaints. Now an exhaustive Baltimore Sun investigation revealed more than 100 people have won settlements and judgments that, along with legal fees, cost city taxpayers $11.5 million over the past four years.
Victims include a pregnant accountant, a woman selling church raffle tickets, a deacon, an 87-year-old grandmother and another grandmother, Barbara Floyd. The city paid her $30,000. She said she was trying to get her grandson into her house when officers claimed she was interfering with his arrest.
“He put another leg into the small of my back. He was grinding my face into the pavement. There was a little hole, a dent in the street. The print of that hole was in my face. I thought I was going to die,” Floyd said.
One man, who asked WJZ not to use his name, claimed officers arrested him without cause, then attacked him while he was handcuffed, upset he fidgeted in the back of a patrol car.
“I thought I was not going to make it that day,” he said.
For what happened, he got $170,000—all paid for by Baltimore City taxpayers.
The Sun found troubling patterns: many of the same officers were involved in case after case of excessive force. In almost every case, prosecutors and judges dropped charges officers brought against citizens. And even after big payouts, the cops routinely kept their jobs.
“The court files and the transcripts, they show a lot of severe injuries: broken noses, broken arms, broken legs, broken jaws,” said Mark Puente, investigative reporter at the Baltimore Sun.
But the Fraternal Order of Police contended the officers are not brutal and many people file frivolous lawsuits to take advantage of them.
As for the city’s response:
“We have made it very clear that any cases brought to us—any allegations of police misconduct, whether it’s criminal, whether it’s administrative or excessive force—we will investigate it to the fullest,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez.
In a recent WJZ interview, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he will not stand for brutality at the hands of his officers.
“I will not tolerate misconduct—that’s building trust. So I can’t be held accountable for the history of this organization, but for the future, we’re going in the right direction,” Batts said.
Many of the victims believe the trust is gone for good.
“I don’t trust them. Not the ones in this area. Actually, not the ones in Baltimore City, period,” Floyd said.
Only now is the city tracking which officers are involved time and time again in these cases.
The mayor says she will not tolerate law enforcement officers acting outside the law.