Woman files suit over 1996 arrest by Arundel police Edgewater resident alleges officers ignored evidence of mistaken identity

July 15, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

An Edgewater woman has filed a $6 million lawsuit alleging that Anne Arundel County police officers wrongfully arrested and jailed her for offenses committed by a different woman with the same name.

According to the lawsuit, police went to Patricia Ellen Greer's home after midnight on April 16, 1996, with a 10-year-old bench warrant charging that she had failed to appear in court on a 1985 welfare fraud charge.

The lawsuit was filed in Anne Arundel Circuit Court in September 1996 and subsequently moved to federal court, according to court records. The case will be heard in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. No date has been set.

Greer, 48, a meat cutter, protested to the arresting officers that her date of birth was 10 years later than that of the Patricia Greer named in the warrant. She presented the officers with her Maryland driver's license to back up the claim, the lawsuit said.

She also told the officers that she had never lived in Linthicum, the address listed for the Patricia Greer named in the warrant. Greer also offered to show the officers her marriage license, which showed that her last name was not Greer when the warrant was issued, the lawsuit said.

The officers "were presented with facts which amounted to more than probable cause to know that Greer was not the subject of the arrest warrant," says the lawsuit, filed on Greer's behalf by Annapolis attorney Jerome T. May.

Greer was arrested and fingerprinted at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center in Annapolis and jailed for 43 hours, according to the lawsuit.

During that time, she was charged with assault, battery, and assault with intent to maim, charges relating to a barroom fight that Greer had allegedly been in several hours before her arrest, May said.

Prosecutors later dropped the charge stemming from the bench warrant. The disposition of the remaining charges couldn't be determined yesterday.

In a reply to the lawsuit, which names the county and the arresting officers, county attorneys denied several aspects of Greer's story, argued that the county is immune from liability and denied that the officers had infringed on Greer's constitutional rights.

Pub Date: 7/15/98

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