Assault case against Howard inmate is dropped he agrees not to sue

June 14, 1996|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

In an unusual deal, the Howard County state's attorney's office dropped charges yesterday against an inmate accused of assaulting a county jail captain, in exchange for an agreement that the inmate would not sue the county or its employees for alleged abuses in jail.

"It's very rare," said Christine Gage, District Court chief for the county state's attorney's office, of the last-minute deal approved by District Judge Lenore R. Gelfman. "We certainly would have tried this case [but] all parties agreed this would be an appropriate outcome."

Michael Alexander Saukas, 23, of Ellicott City was accused of assault and battery against former shift commander Thomas V. Kimball Jr., during a scuffle with the captain at the Howard County Detention Center on Feb. 24.

Jail incident reports state that Saukas, who remains in jail on a probation violation, was returning from the visitors area, refused to return to his cell and had to be forcibly taken to the lockup. During the scuffle, Kimball alleges that Saukas kicked him once in the right shin and again just above the right knee.

Saukas said in interviews with The Sun that he was beaten while handcuffed. In response to the charges against him, Saukas wrote to the county District Court clerk, asking how to press charges in the incident.

He never filed charges in the case. But the possibility of a civil lawsuit against the county, the jail, Kimball and other jail employees -- which Gage said was threatened by Saukas' attorney, Jason Shapiro -- apparently was enough to have Saukas' charges dropped in this case.

"It's the same as a 'not guilty' " verdict, Shapiro said yesterday of the decision by the state's attorney's office to drop the charges.

Kimball -- who was not a certified correctional officer at the time and has been removed from his position as shift commander -- would not comment yesterday about the February incident. But he supported the court's decision to drop the charges against Saukas in exchange for Saukas' agreeing not to sue.

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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