Man sues county for arrest injuries

July 19, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A partially paralyzed man has sued the county and a sheriff's deputy who, he contends, injured him by using "malicious, unnecessary and excessive force" during a July 1991 arrest.

The man, William G. McComas of Middle River in Baltimore County, is seeking $800,000 in damages from the county and Deputy Jack Buchanan of the county Sheriff's Office.

"The defendant, Jack Buchanan . . . owed a duty of care to the plaintiff to use only so much force as was necessary to effect the arrest of the plaintiff," says the suit, which was filed July 10.

DeWayne D. Curry, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, declined to comment, saying the department has not received a copy of the suit.

The plaintiff has requested a jury trial. A hearing for the case has not been scheduled.

Mr. McComas, 35, contends that during the July 11, 1991 arrest for assault, he received "severe, painful and permanent injuries" to his head, limbs and nervous system that prevent him from working.

The plaintiff, who lived in Edgewood at the time of his arrest, says in the suit that he has received medical treatment because of the injuries. The suit does not say how much money Mr. McComas spent on treatment.

Mr. McComas says he has been partially paralyzed since March 1986, when he suffered brain damage during an unrelated assault.

According to the suit, Mr. Buchanan was called to the McComas home in the 1800 block of Stevens Drive in Edgewood because of an argument between Mr. McComas and his brother, Ronald E. McComas. The brother and Mr. McComas' mother, Margaret McComas, met the deputy outside the house, saying the plaintiff was inside the house with a knife.

The mother and brother informed Mr. Buchanan that Mr. McComas was partially paralyzed from the 1986 incident, the suit says. The deputy ordered Mr. McComas, who was standing inside a closed storm door, to drop the knife. Mr. McComas complied, dropping the weapon on the patio outside the door. The deputy informed Mr. McComas that he was under arrest.

"As the plaintiff attempted to peacefully surrender himself, and walk outside to the officer, [Mr. Buchanan] grabbed the plaintiff, pulled him down three steps, threw him violently to the ground, handcuffed his arms behind his back and then dragged him by the handcuffs across the patio," the suit says.

Mr. McComas says in the suit that he did not resist arrest or struggle with the deputy.

A police report filed in Harford District Court gives a different account of the arrest.

Mr. Buchanan says in the report that Mr. McComas' brother and mother told him that the plaintiff had threatened them with a knife.

"As Deputy Buchanan was awaiting back-up units to arrive, [Mr. McComas] opened the door and stepped outside, waving a 14-inch butcher knife and saying that he was going to kill somebody," the report says.

The deputy drew his service weapon and ordered Mr. McComas to drop the knife, but Mr. McComas continued to shout and wave the weapon, the report says.

Mr. McComas later complied with the deputy's order, dropping the knife, the report says. He pulled out a second knife and dropped it as well, according to the report.

Mr. Buchanan arrested Mr. McComas, who was charged with assault, concealing a deadly weapon, and obstructing and hindering, the report says.

The police report does not mention any confrontation between Mr. Buchanan and Mr. McComas, as alleged in the suit.

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