Police issue report in wrong-arrest case

March 18, 1995|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County police released a report yesterday on the shooting investigation that led to the arrest at gunpoint of Catonsville dairy truck driver Christopher Duane McDermott -- and a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by the man and his family.

According to the report, the police were told that someone known only as "Chris" had been making telephone threats and, on March 2 last year, pointed a handgun at a 17-year old Western VoTech student and fired one shot outside a house in the 1700 block of Langford Road.

The report, which had the names of some witnesses or participants excised, indicated there had been a dispute involving ex-girlfriends and that the gun was fired by a man known as "Chris." Later, one of the witnesses called police and gave a last name -- McDermott.

"A check through computers revealed a Christopher Duane McDermott resided in the Catonsville area and fit the general description provided by all witnesses," the report said.

"We submitted this information to a District Court commissioner who determined there was probable cause, and an arrest warrant was issued," said Cpl. Kevin B. Novak, a police spokesman. Because of the handgun, he said, the police also obtained a search warrant for their suspect's home in the 700 block of Meadowbrook Ave.

"On March 4, we served both warrants," he said. "Whether we had the wrong man, we don't know."

No gun was found in the search, and six weeks later the county state's attorney's office dropped all charges against Mr. McDermott without bringing the case to court.

In filing the lawsuit, Mr. McDermott and his wife, Michelle Marie McDermott, complained of the manner of the arrest witnessed by their then-3-year-old daughter, and the conduct of police officers who Mrs. McDermott said used foul language and threatened to arrest her and place the little girl in state custody.

Corporal Novak reiterated yesterday that the department's official policy is not to comment on lawsuits.

"There is nothing active on the case," he said, of the original shooting incident. But he said there will be an investigation of the couple's claims. He said that the McDermotts did not file a complaint before filing the suit against the county, the Police Department and officers.

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