Bay police officer's report of attack is questioned

Balto. Co. police say `inconsistencies' led to her suspension

January 18, 2001|By Laura Lippman and Tim Craig | Laura Lippman and Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Police Department has suspended with pay a marine officer who reported being beaten and left for dead while on patrol in the Chesapeake Bay two months ago.

Police said yesterday they have found "inconsistencies in the officer's report of the incident." The investigation has been turned over to the department's internal affairs bureau.

"The criminal investigation remains open," said department spokesman Bill Toohey. "However, detectives feel they have exhausted all possible leads."

The officer, Teresa M. Algatt, 26, retained a lawyer recently after hearing that some officials in the department were questioning her version events.

Algatt told police she was attacked after stopping two men on a red boat off Hart-Miller Island on Nov. 8. Police said at the time that she was hit on the head when she climbed aboard the unregistered 20- to 30-foot boat, fell into the water, briefly lost consciousness, then climbed back into her patrol boat and called for help.

She was reported to have suffered head injuries and hypothermia. Police also said her life jacket had been punctured by an unknown object.

Investigators found no trace of the racing boat, despite what one Coast Guard official has characterized as "an extensive search."

Toohey said late last week that the search for the boat has ended.

`An insult'

Algatt's lawyer, Michael Marshall, who also represents Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, could not be reached for comment last night.

In an interview last week, he dismissed the rumors that officials did not believe her report of the attack, calling such talk "an insult to her and the FOP."

"I do not see anything about this incident that raises any suspicion in my mind, based on what I know," he said.

Cole Weston, president of FOP Lodge 4, also could not be reached for comment last night.

No drugs, violence

Algatt also reported seeing large duffel bags aboard the Cigarette boat, which prompted concerns about possible drug trafficking on the Chesapeake Bay, similar to smuggling operations in the Caribbean.

But Toohey said recently "there has been no evidence" since the reported incident of "any organized drug trafficking or violence in the area."

Algatt, a six-year veteran, was off work for more than a month after the reported attack and received counseling, Toohey has said. She returned to work Dec. 18.

Police said that the officer was suspended late yesterday by Capt. Lawrence Suther, commander of the department's Support Services Section, which oversees the marine unit.

A suspension hearing for Algatt has been scheduled for tomorrow, police said.

Police declined to release additional details about the investigation, calling it a "personnel matter."

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