BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Two Baltimore men on Thursday sued the Baltimore Police Department and an indicted sergeant, alleging the officer unlawfully detained them during separate 2019 arrests.
One of the incidents led to Sgt. Ethan Newberg being charged with assault, false arrest, false imprisonment and misconduct two years ago.READ MORE: Maryland Dept. Of Health Website Operational After Cyberattack
On May 30, 2019, Newberg and another officer, Alex Young, had arrested a man in the 2300 block of Ashton Street when a passerby, Lee Dotson, told the officers they shouldn’t make the man sit on the wet ground, the civil lawsuit says.
Newberg told Dotson to mind his business, and when Dotson reiterated his complaint, the sergeant charged at Dotson and grabbed his arm, according to the suit.
After Dotson escaped, Young allegedly grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground. He then pressed Dotson’s arm into his back and arrested him, the suit alleges.
Young is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
At the time of the incident, Newberg claimed Dotson was being aggressive, but Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said body camera footage showed he was calmly walking away.
“The officer we arrested today or being arrested right now does not reflect who we are or what we stand for,” Harrison said at the time. “This behavior will never have a place in this police department as long as I’m police commissioner.”
Newberg was suspended without pay following the incident. Salary records revealed he was the highest-paid city employee in fiscal year 2019, taking a home $260,775.26–more than both Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and then-Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young.READ MORE: Pending Regulatory Approval, Sportsbook At Horseshoe Casino Could Open Friday
In December 2019, Newberg was indicted on 32 counts stemming from nine separate incidents in which he allegedly harassed citizens spanning from July 2018 and May 2019.
“What might otherwise appear to be isolated incidents dating back to 2018 turned out to be numerous examples of a consistent pattern and practice of knowing and intentional harassment, intimidation, detention, assault, coercion and illegal tactics that were employed against law-abiding citizens of Baltimore City with the intent to instill fear as is alleged in the indictment,” Mosby said at the time.
Newberg, a 24-year-veteran of the police department, was released from custody a few days later after posting $200,000 bail.
In the suit filed Thursday, another victim, Charles Kuniken, alleged he was unlawfully detained and searched after asking if a man Newberg and another officer were arresting needed medical attention.
According to the suit, the incident took place on April 29, 2019 in the 2000 block of W. Pratt Street. Newberg allegedly had his knee in the arrestee’s back and the other officer had the man in a headlock, the suit says.
Newberg allegedly ordered other officers who arrived at the scene to arrest and search Kuniken. He then allegedly took Kuniken to the Southwestern District and put him in a holding cell.
Both Dotson and Kuniken are represented by Murphy, Falcon & Murphy. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages on 11 different counts.MORE NEWS: Man Accused Of Killing Evelyn Player Was Working In Her Church, Attorney Says; Will Plead Not Criminally Responsible
Newberg’s trial on the 32-count indictment has been delayed until April 2022, according to court records.