Case of BWI traveler to go to trial, court rules

July 30, 2000

A civil case pressed by a traveler against police at Baltimore-Washington International Airport will go to trial, the state's highest court has ruled.

The Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Anne Arundel County Circuit Court was wrong to dismiss the excessive-force complaint filed in 1998 by Inalegwu Okwa, who was trying to board a British Airways flight to Lagos, Nigeria.

A circuit judge had ruled that the officers were immune from suit and were acting within their authority when they arrested Okwa in 1996 on a charge of resisting arrest and related counts. A district judge dismissed criminal charges against Okwa.

But the top court said that the Circuit Court should have heard the civil case because the facts of why and how Okwa was arrested by Metropolitan Transportation Authority officers were disputed.

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