Suit filed in killing by police officer BALTIMORE CITY

September 30, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

Attorneys for the family of a man shot in the back and killed while he attempted to flee from a Baltimore City police officer in January have filed a $264 million lawsuit, charging that "tremendous and excessive deadly force" had been used.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court, alleges that Officer Darlene Early took aim at the fleeing man, Raleigh D. Lemon, and fired even though she knew he was unarmed.

Mr. Lemon, 32, of the 1000 block of W. Mulberry St., was arrested on a burglary charge Jan. 13 and suffered injuries in a fight with police. He was taken to Bon Secours Hospital to be treated, and Officer Early, 22, was assigned as the lone person to guard him.

After hospital personnel removed his handcuffs to take his blood pressure, Mr. Lemon bolted from the emergency room and ran down a hallway with Officer Early in pursuit, according to a police report.

The officer claimed her 9 mm Glock pistol discharged when Mr. Lemon stopped suddenly, reached behind and attempted to grab the weapon, the police report said. A police review of the incident concluded that the shooting was justified, and the state's attorney's office did not file criminal charges.

But the lawsuit takes issue with the claim that Mr. Lemon tried to grab the weapon. Dwayne Brown, an attorney for Mr. Lemon's family, called Officer Early's claim "a fabrication." Mr. Brown pointed to an autopsy report by the state medical examiner's office, which concluded that Mr. Lemon's bullet wound "demonstrated neither evidence of close range nor contact firing."

The lawsuit said Mr. Lemon was running away in fear and posed no threat to the officer. The officer, the lawsuit said, "owed a duty to Mr. Lemon to exercise her authority in a reasonable manner. . . . [She] had a duty to use only such force as was reasonable."

Named as defendants are Officer Early, the city Police Department and Commissioner Edward V. Woods, and the state of Maryland.

The lawsuit said Mr. Lemon died after the bullet entered his back, severed his spinal cord and passed through his aorta.

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