Springfield worker sues guards, Sykesville for arrest Racial prejudice was a factor, she says

August 05, 1992|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff Writer

SYKESVILLE -- An employee of Springfield Hospital Center is suing two hospital security guards and the town for damages she said resulted from a June 1990 arrest.

In the suit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court, Ida C. Hawkins of Baltimore County said she was on her way to work on the Springfield grounds on June 27, 1990, when hospital Security Officer Ricky Hinkle pulled her over for a traffic citation.

After dropping off a passenger who was with her, Ms. Hawkins parked her car but was approached by Officer Hinkle when she tried to enter one of the buildings.

"Mr. Hinkle went in front of Plaintiff [Ms. Hawkins] with his body to stop Plaintiff from going in," the suit states. "He thereafter pushed her and shoved her twice. Plaintiff produced her driver's license at Mr. Hinkle's demand and then walked past him when he reached for the license."

The suit says Mr. Hinkle referred to Ms. Hawkins as a "savage" in her presence.

Ms. Hawkins is black and Officer Hinkle is white.

With the help of another hospital security guard, John Craven, and a Sykesville police officer, Ms. Hawkins was arrested, the suit says.

Ms. Hawkins is seeking $2 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages from each of the defendants for intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

In Carroll County Circuit Court, Ms. Hawkins was found not guilty of all charges except the traffic violation, said her attorney, Mark A. Epstein, of Towson.

"We're alleging there was some harassment and racial overtones, and criminal charges were brought without probable cause," Mr. Epstein said. "She has since sought psychiatric treatment for the emotional stress she's gone through."

Mr. Craven refused to comment on the suit last night.

Sykesville Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr., who was served with the suit for the town, said he turned the case over to the Local Government Insurance Trust, which assigned William Wiseman of Towson to handle the town's defense.

Mr. Wiseman said a town police officer responded to the scene of the 1990 incident at the request of the hospital security guards, although the officer is not mentioned by name.

Mr. Wiseman said he expects Sykesville to be dismissed from the suit because it was filed in the wrong jurisdiction.

Mr. Epstein said he had several venues to chose from in filing the suit and simply chose Baltimore.

Sykesville Police Sgt. Alphonso Griffin said the officer who responded to the call for assistance merely appeared on the scene but took no action.

"We can't make arrests outside of the town limits unless it involves a crime or traffic violation that occurred in the town," Sergeant Griffin said. "This case did not do that."

He stressed that the officer was not mentioned by name in the suit and was not charged with any improprieties.

Ms. Hawkins is demanding a trial by jury in the case.

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