Slain man's parents sue Balto. Co. detective $2 million sought in 1993 fatal shooting

September 12, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County undercover detective is facing a $2 million wrongful death civil lawsuit filed by the parents of a man he shot fatally in Southwest Baltimore in 1993.

Officer James C. Bonsall, now assigned to the Western Traffic Unit, and the Baltimore County police are accused of negligence, battery and civil rights violations in a lawsuit filed in Circuit Court in Baltimore City by the slain man's parents, Anna Pearl Hamlin and Ezell Whitaker.

The victim, Troy Larente Whitaker, 23, of the 1900 block of Hillcrest Road, was struck once above the left buttock by one of two shots fired by Bonsall after a car chase from the county into the city on Sept. 14. Whitaker died a short time later while undergoing surgery.

The lawsuit charges that Bonsall tried to arrest Whitaker with no arrest or search warrant and with no probable cause. Bonsall led a car chase behind Whitaker from Baltimore County to the intersection of Parkton Street and Yale Avenue in Baltimore City.

"Troy Whitaker, who was unarmed, stopped his automobile and fled from his automobile on foot," according to the lawsuit. "Bonsall exited his vehicle, drew his gun, aimed it at Troy Whitaker's back and ordered Troy to stop. Troy Whitaker stopped. Bonsall then shot Troy Whitaker in the back."

The police version differs from the account in the lawsuit.

Police say that the incident began when Baltimore County narcotics officers arranged to make an undercover buy of crack cocaine at a convenience store in Arbutus.

Police said Whitaker pulled into the lot of the store at Highview Avenue and Maiden Choice Lane. He sped off when he realized he was about to be arrested, they said.

Police chased the 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier from Baltimore County to Southwest Baltimore, where Whitaker jumped from the vehicle in the 4300 block of Parkton St. Police said Whitaker turned as he fled and appeared to be concealing something in his hands, and Bonsall fired.

Police said they recovered 26 vials of crack cocaine from the man's car. Along the pursuit route, police said they recovered a loaded .44-caliber handgun believed to have been discarded by Whitaker.

Baltimore County Attorney Virginia W. Barnhart yesterday declined to comment on the case because she had not been officially served the lawsuit. Baltimore County police spokesman William Toohey referred all questions to Barnhart.

Richard V. Falcon and Gil S. Amaral, attorneys for the slain man's parents, declined to comment. No court date has been set.

Pub Date: 9/12/96

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