Police investigate how man become injured Officers suspected driver was drunk

November 07, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police have launched an internal investigation into how a 32-year-old man became critically injured in the back of a police transport van after he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

The incident occurred about 3: 30 a.m. Monday when Northwestern District Officer Arnold McDonald stopped a BMW in the 4800 block of Reisterstown Road and took the man into custody after saying he smelled alcohol on the man's breath.

Two other officers in the van -- the driver and a supervisor -- told investigators that the man freed himself from a seat belt and repeatedly rammed his head into a plastic glass window that separates officers from prisoners.

Department spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr. offered a detailed account of what the officers say occurred. However, he declined to release the name of the injured man or the names of the other two other police officers involved because the incident is being investigated.

McDonald's name was made public in a copy of the police report.

The injured man identified himself to officers as Titorian Goodwin of the 2400 block of W. Lombard St., which is the name that is vTC listed on the initial police report. But police said he gave officers the wrong name, and police sources said the man's real name is Jeffrey Alston.

Police said Alston, whose address was not available, was being treated at Sinai Hospital for a possible broken vertebrae or broken neck.

Jill Bloom, a hospital spokeswoman, said Alston's condition was listed as guarded. The man's relatives could not be reached for comment yesterday. His mother did not return a message given to her by Bloom on behalf of The Sun.

Alston has a long history of arrests, court records show, but no convictions that could be found yesterday. His arrests date to 1987 and include mostly drug charges. He was arrested in 1992 and charged with being a fugitive from New Jersey. He's been charged three times since 1992 with resisting arrest, but prosecutors never followed through with the cases, records show.

Weinhold said McDonald pulled Alston over on an alleged speeding infraction. "The officer describes the driver as becoming very argumentative and combative," the spokesman said, adding that the officer then arrested him.

A van was called to take Alston to the Central District station to undergo a Breathalyzer test. But the officers said the man got out of a seat belt "and began to kick the sides of the van in what officers described as thrashing himself about the inside of the van," Weinhold said.

After putting the seat belt on Alston again, Weinhold said the van driver and a supervisor got into the front seat and drove away. About a block away, Weinhold said Alston again broke free, forcing the driver to stop the van.

Weinhold, quoting the officers, said the prisoner began to kick the back doors of the van, then rammed his head into the plastic glass window. The officers said they opened the back door.

"They said they found the suspect lying on the floor of the van," Weinhold, said. "The suspect then states he is having difficultly breathing and is feeling numb. The officers, realizing the suspect is injured, transported him to Sinai hospital," he said.

Pub Date: 11/07/97

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