Prosecutor drops charge against Conway

State senator was accused of interfering with medics trying to aid injured child

March 17, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore state's attorney dropped a charge against state Sen. Joan Carter Conway yesterday stemming from her arrest last month by police who accused her of blocking paramedics from helping an injured child.

Conway was arrested by Baltimore police Feb. 9 outside her tax office in the 2300 block of E. Monument St. shortly after a 6-year-old girl was hit by a car. Police charged the former northeast Baltimore councilwoman with hindering a law enforcement officer.

The 47-year-old senator denied the allegations and accused the arresting officer, Troy Dezwart, of using excessive force while handcuffing her and forcing her to sit on the curb. Police said Conway was the only person among 200 onlookers who refused to move back and give paramedics space to work on the child.

Conway said she was concerned about the child's welfare and was trying to ensure that the girl's mother was alerted. Yesterday, she welcomed Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy's decision to drop the case.

"Especially when you know that you didn't do anything but try to help a little girl," she said. "There is no way I would hinder helping a little girl. The paramedic was obviously having a bad day."

Conway and her attorney, City Councilman Martin O'Malley, obtained testimony from several eyewitnesses who supported her claims.

Why the charge was dropped was unclear yesterday -- prosecutors dismissed the case without commenting. A call placed to Jessamy's office was not returned. Police Department spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr. declined to comment yesterday on the dropped charge. Police sources said several firefighters interviewed said Conway was upset about not being able to reach her nearby car.

Conway's arrest sparked outrage among legislative colleagues in Annapolis, and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke expressed concern about Conway's treatment by police.

The state Senate is considering a bill that would create a civilian police review board in the city to look at such cases. Weinhold said yesterday that the department is continuing to review the arrest.

"The internal probe is continuing to review whether or not the arrest was within the administrative and legal guidelines set forth by the department," Weinhold said.

Pub Date: 3/17/99

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