Man sues 3 police officers, charging they beat him during arrest

September 21, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

A Glen Burnie man has filed a $1.3 million suit in U.S. District Court against three Anne Arundel County police officers, charging that they beat him during his arrest last fall.

Joseph T. Doyle, 26, of the 600 block of Charante Court claims that Officer Jeffrey J. Fratantuono struck him in the head with a flashlight on the parking lot outside Legends Bar in Crofton on Sept. 17, 1993.

The lawsuit alleges that Officer Daniel Sereboff and Officer Jeffrey P. Shelton joined the beating and struck Mr. Doyle as he struggled to free himself after being hit with the flashlight. Mr. Doyle required hospital treatment for cuts and bruises on his head, the lawsuit said.

Also named as defendants in the suit are County Executive Robert R. Neall and the county police chief.

Mr. Doyle was charged with assault and battery, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and loitering. He was found not guilty by a District Court judge on May 16 of this year. Officer Fratantuono and Officer Sereboff are still on the county police force, said police spokesman Officer Randy Bell. Officer Shelton is a member of the Crofton Police Department, a spokeswoman for that department said.

Officer Bell said the department personnel policy prohibits him from saying whether the officers were disciplined.

Deborah Bogush, chief of the Crofton Police Department, said that she knew nothing of the suit and would have no comment until she reviews the case.

Anne Arundel County Attorney Judson Garrett said that his office had not been served with the lawsuit yet, but that it can sometimes take up to a month to get the paperwork.

The lawsuit says Mr. Doyle and some friends were talking outside Legends Bar at about 2 a.m. when the three officers walked up.

The officers said the men were violating the county's anti-loitering laws and would have to leave.

Mr. Doyle and his friends had been drinking and were reluctant to leave the parking lot because they were afraid of being arrested on drunken driving charges, the suit says.

But when the officers ordered them to go, Mr. Doyle walked to his car, pulled the front seat forward and tried to sit in the back seat.

Officer Fratantuono pulled Mr. Doyle from the car, the lawsuit alleges. Mr. Doyle, surprised, cursed as he was hauled from his car.

Officers Sereboff and Shelton grabbed Mr. Doyle's arms and stood him up in front of Officer Fratantuono, according to the suit.

Officer Fratantuono leaned toward the plaintiff and said, "I'm going to get you, Doyle." The officer then hit Mr. Doyle on the head with the flashlight, leaving him "dazed and bleeding," the lawsuit alleges.

The police version of the incident outlined in District Court records says Mr. Doyle cursed Officer Fratantuono and punched him in the face. The other two officers grabbed him and he swung at them three times but missed. Officer Fratantuono struck Mr. Doyle to subdue him.

Mr. Doyle is asking for $1 million in punitive damages and $300,000 in compensatory damages.

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