Mother of man shot during stop sues police sergeant and city Officer faces charges from Feb. 7 incident

July 10, 1996|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

The mother of a 22-year-old man shot and killed when his car was stopped by a Baltimore police sergeant in February has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the officer and the city.

Sgt. Stephen R. Pagotto, a 15-year veteran of the force, has been charged with manslaughter and two counts of reckless endangerment in the Feb. 7 shooting. He is suspended from the department without pay and scheduled to stand trial Aug. 23.

Preston Barnes and two passengers were riding in a white Subaru when Pagotto stopped them in the 2600 block of Kirk Ave. in Northeast Baltimore because the car was missing its rear license plate. Police said the car rolled forward after it had been stopped, and a bullet from Pagotto's gun hit Barnes in the left armpit.

Sylvia Smith of Northeast Baltimore, Barnes' mother, alleges in the suit that Pagotto violated police procedures when he drew his gun during the stop of Barnes' car and that he did not get prompt medical attention for Barnes.

"The family is doing this because they're very upset at what's happened," Smith's attorney, Leonard A. Orman, said yesterday. "They lost a son who was not doing anything to harm anybody."

But Henry L. Belsky, Pagotto's lawyer, said 911 tapes would show that an ambulance was called to the scene "within a short period of time." He added, "My client performed first aid on him and an ambulance was called immediately."

Orman said yesterday that the civil trial would likely be delayed until after Pagotto's criminal case is resolved.

Pub Date: 7/10/96

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