Officer testifies in suit alleging harassment

He says man `irrational' during 1997 traffic stop

March 23, 2000|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police officer on trial for allegedly yanking a 27-year-old lab technician out of his car and harassing him at a traffic stop told jurors in Baltimore Circuit Court yesterday that he had done nothing wrong.

Officer Robert Quick testified that Bryan F. Reddick's "irrational" and "belligerent" reaction when officers pulled him over for allegedly committing a traffic violation made officers fear for their safety.

Quick testified that he feared Reddick might be on drugs or have mental problems.

"I'd seen no sane person act as crazy as Mr. Reddick did for being pulled over on a minor traffic violation," Quick testified. "What started to me [as] a normal traffic stop, he now escalated into a [scene] where we had to put our hands on him."

Quick and seven other city officers are being sued for allegedly harassing and wrongfully jailing Reddick in August 1997. The trial is expected to last until Monday.

Reddick's lawyers say the officers targeted him because he is black. They argue that Reddick was released from jail because then-Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, a family friend, intervened.

Reddick testified that four of the officers, including Quick, pulled him over for no reason, then yanked him out of the car and harassed him.

Quick denied that on the witness stand yesterday. He told jurors that he asked Reddick twice for his license and registration, but Reddick refused to comply. He asked Reddick to get out of the car. When Reddick didn't, Quick testified, he opened the door and reached inside to pull Reddick's hand from the steering wheel.

Reddick then "jumped" out of the car, colliding with Quick, the officer said. Another officer pulled Reddick's arm behind his back and he calmed down, Quick said.

The officers left without giving him a ticket.

"It was my perception that he just didn't like police, didn't like me and didn't like being pulled over," Quick said.

Reddick immediately drove to the police station to file a complaint against the officers. Later that night, when he returned with his mother to follow up on the complaint, he was arrested on a warrant that had been issued for someone else. He was jailed for about 20 minutes.

The four officers involved in that part of the case do not dispute that they jailed the wrong man. But they said it was an honest mistake.

Yesterday, two of those officers gave a conflicting account of the events leading up to Reddick's being placed behind bars. Both agreed, however, that no one asked Reddick's name before placing him under arrest on a warrant for a man named Eric Brown.

"You're an officer of 20 years and you didn't ask his name?" defense lawyer Michael D. Fraidin asked Sgt. Carolyn Fowler.

"No, I didn't," Fowler responded.

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