A federal judge in Baltimore has ruled that Howard County should not be freed from a complaint alleging excessive force by its police.
The complaint was filed on behalf of two men who alleged that officers beat them while breaking up a loud party.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Walter E. Black Jr. in Baltimore on Friday denied the county's request to dismiss the complaint.
Attorneys for Carl Jonathan Bowie and his twin brother, Mickey, have filed a $1.2 million federal suit against two police officers and the county, claiming that the brothers were beaten by two county police officers at the Red Roof Inn in Jessup on Jan. 5, 1990.
Four months after the alleged incident, Carl Bowie was found hanged on a baseball backstop outside Oakland Mills High School. Police ruled the death a suicide, but family members dispute that finding.
Columbia attorney Jo M. Glasco contends in motions to the court that the county should remain a defendant because it had allowed a pattern of excessive force by police officers to continue for several years before the 1990 incident with the Bowies.
The suit claims that police administrators failed to take disciplinary action against officers, and that the Bowies' constitutional rights were violated because that pattern of excessive force led to their beating by two police officers at the motel.
A county lawyer denied that police administrators allowed officers to go unpunished for using excessive force.
"Absolutely, that's not the case," said Marna McLendon, the county lawyer.
Black, however, ruled immediately after hearing arguments that the county should remain a defendant. He will decide next whether the cases against the county and the officers will be tried together or separately.
The two officers named in the suit, Victor Riemer and Rickey Johnson, are currently being tried by a three-man police trial board to determine whether they violated administrative procedures while breaking up the party of teen-agers at the motel.
Mickey Bowie, who was 19 at the time, alleges that Riemer physically removed him from the motel, wrestled him to the ground and smashed his face into the ground several times.
In tape-recorded testimony to a police internal affairs investigator, which has been played at trial board proceedings, Riemer said Bowie had fought him and that he pushed the young man's face into the ground to keep him under control while arresting him.