Woman sues Sheriff's Office in 'unjustified' traffic stop Suit claims APG officers told to detain her

July 05, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Darlington woman is suing the county Sheriff's Office, claiming it "negligently, recklessly and carelessly" authorized two Military Police officers to stop and detain her for about 90 minutes.

Helen Chapman, of the 3300 block of Maple Drive, is seeking $25,000 in damages, claiming that the "traffic stop was without cause or justification."

The lawsuit contends she has suffered severe and permanent emotional distress as a result of the Sept. 21, 1990 incident, in which the Aberdeen Proving Ground officers refused to tell her why she had been stopped or to allow her to leave the scene.

Ms. Chapman was not cited for any violation after the 11 p.m. stop on Route 161, the suit says.

DeWayne D. Curry, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said the department had not been served with the suit but would refer it to the county Law Department for review.

The Military Police officers were not named as defendants in the suit.

Officers from the state police and the county's three municipal police agencies are deputized to conduct routine police duties throughout Harford, Deputy Curry said. APG officers are not deputized.

L The suit, filed Tuesday, gives this account of the incident:

Ms. Chapman was driving north on Route 161 near Darlington -- off proving ground property -- about 10:45 p.m. when two following Military Police officers turned on their vehicle's emergency lights and siren to stop her.

The plaintiff says she continued driving for about 15 minutes to find a safe place to stop, parking near the U.S. 1 intersection.

"Many, many times the plaintiff asked to leave and was ordered to stay in her car," the suit says. "She was petrified and hysterical."

At 12:30 a.m., a state trooper from the Benson barracks arrived at the scene after a passing motorist informed state police about the traffic stop, the suit says. The trooper immediately released Ms. Chapman.

In the suit, Ms. Chapman contends that the Sheriff's Office gave the Military Police permission to stop her through a radio transmission to APG police headquarters.

The suit does not disclose how Ms. Chapman learned that the officers were authorized to stop her by the Sheriff's Office, nor does it include medical records to support her claim of emotional distress.

A hearing date for the suit has not been scheduled.

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