Lawsuit errs, say 2 officers Woman claims they injured her

July 16, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Two county police officers deny allegations that they used excessive force when they arrested a Silver Spring woman during a traffic stop three years ago, according to court papers filed Tuesday.

The woman, Michelle Teachout, contends in a lawsuit that Officers John Mynaugh and John Parrott fractured her jaw and injured her head, face, arms and back after stopping her in Ellicott City on June 10, 1990.

Ms. Teachout claims the officers then violated her constitutional rights by filing criminal charges against her to explain why she was injured.

The woman, 20, is seeking $1.1 million in damages in a suit she filed last month in Howard Circuit Court against the officers, the county and "additional, presently unidentified" officers.

Officers Mynaugh and Parrott say they were not responsible for Ms. Teachout's injuries. They contend that she was injured when she fell while attempting to flee from them.

"The defendants state there was no physical attack or brutalization of the plaintiff," the officers say.

Officer Mynaugh has been with the department since 1985, Officer Parrott since 1986.

Ms. Teachout and her attorneys, William Gately of Towson and John Clark Jr. of Columbia, could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit says Ms. Teachout, then 17, was driving along All Saints Road when she was pulled over and ordered from her car by Officers Parrott and Mynaugh. Several other marked police cruisers responded to the scene.

The officers arrested Ms. Teachout and handcuffed her wrists behind her back when they learned she was driving without a valid driver's license, the lawsuit says.

Ms. Teachout -- allegedly surrounded by police officers -- submitted to the arrest without resistance, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Officer Mynaugh, for no reason, grabbed Ms. Teachout by her handcuffed arms, lifted her off of the ground and slammed her face into the roadbed. He then jammed his knee into her back, grabbed the back of her head and ground her face into the gravel road, the lawsuit states.

Officer Parrott and the other officers at the scene did nothing to stop Officer Mynaugh, the lawsuit says.

Ms. Teachout says in the lawsuit that she was then taken to the county Police Department, where she was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and operating a vehicle without a valid driver's license.

She also was charged with fleeing and eluding police "for the sole, express purpose of covering up and/or justifying the brutal physical assault" from Officer Mynaugh, the lawsuit alleges.

The officers acknowledge in court papers that they stopped Ms. Teachout but disagree about what happened.

The officers say they asked Ms. Teachout to get out of her car after she failed to display a driver's license. They say she was not arrested until after she tried to flee.

After Ms. Teachout fell, she was handcuffed while lying on the ground, Officers Parrott and Mynaugh say.

The officers say the woman received only minor cuts on her knees and face when she fell.

Officers Parrott and Mynaugh say that only two other officers were present during the arrest.

They maintain that the criminal charges they filed against Ms. Teachout were appropriate, according to their court papers.

The fleeing and eluding charge was dismissed by the state's attorney's office when the case went to Juvenile Court, the lawsuit says. Ms. Teachout's record was unavailable because juvenile documents are sealed.

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