Suit says man who died in July was beaten by police in 1991 raid

November 08, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

The father of a 39-year-old Carroll County man who died in July of a cocaine overdose claims in a lawsuit filed yesterday that Westminster police beat his son during a 1991 drug raid.

The civil suit, which seeks $1.8 million in damages, claims that two officers beat Edward L. Kelso as they searched his Westminster apartment Nov. 7, 1991.

"Mr. Kelso was savagely beaten by the police officers even though he offered no resistance," the suit claims. "The intent of the beating was to inflict emotional distress and humiliation."

Named as defendants in the suit -- filed in Carroll Circuit Court by Edward C. Kelso on behalf of his son's estate -- are the mayor and City Council, the city Police Department, Westminster Police Chief Sam R. Leppo, Detective Wayne B. Mann and Sgt. Andrew McKendrick.

Chief Leppo declined to comment on the suit and said the other two officers also would decline to comment. Westminster City Attorney John B. Walsh said he could not comment on the suit because he had not seen it.

According to records in Carroll Circuit Court, the younger Mr. Kelso's apartment was searched Nov. 8 -- not Nov. 7, as the suit claims -- after a county judge signed a search warrant.

During the raid, officers found traces of cocaine under furniture, in trash cans and in Edward L. Kelso's clothes, court records say. He was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and other felony drug charges.

While charging documents in the arrest give no indications of a struggle between police and Mr. Kelso, his father's suit says Sergeant McKendrick "cut his own knuckles while beating Edward L. Kelso." The suit also says the younger Mr. Kelso was ordered to be tested for the AIDS virus because of Sergeant McKendrick's alleged injuries.

The test for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the suit says, violated the man's right to privacy and right "to confidentiality of his medical status." The suit did not divulge the results of any medical tests.

According to court records, Edward L. Kelso was found guilty of cocaine possession in February 1992 and placed on five years of probation. In the next several months, he was charged with numerous counts of passing bad checks, theft, credit card fraud and forgery. Less than a month before he died, Mr. Kelso's probation from his half-dozen 1992 cases was extended through next year.

The suit does not allege a connection between the drug raid and Mr. Kelso's death on July 10, 1994. The state medical examiner's office said yesterday that Edward L. Kelso died of "cocaine intoxication." A spokeswoman would not release any more information on Mr. Kelso.

Mr. Kelso's father said yesterday that he knew "very little" about the suit. He referred questions to his attorney, Edward A. Eshmont of Owings Mills, who is out of the country until Nov. 15.

Mr. Kelso died without a will, according to his estate, which was opened last month.

The only known relatives, records in the estate say, were his father and his mother, Edythe I. Kelso, who died in June 1994.

The only asset listed in the estate is a $10,000 life insurance policy.

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