Criticizing a police action as "overreaching and frivolous," the Baltimore state's attorney's office dropped charges yesterday against mayoral hopeful Andrey Bundley, who was briefly handcuffed by police Sunday for placing campaign handbills on car windshields.
State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy -- who has clashed with Mayor Martin O'Malley and Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark -- acted two days after Clark declared at a news conference, "Cops took the right action here."
"Mrs. Jessamy is using her elected authority to say, `In the interest of justice, this should not proceed,'" said her spokeswoman, Margaret T. Burns.
Clark declined to comment yesterday.
Bundley, who called this week for an end to what he characterized as the over-aggressiveness of police, wouldn't say last night whether he was disappointed that he won't get his day in court.
"I wish it would have never happened. I wish they wouldn't have intruded in my life," he said, adding that he will continue to put up signs and fliers in "an ethical and appropriate" manner.
Bundley, 42, principal of Walbrook High Uniform Services Academy, is challenging O'Malley in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary.
His lawyer, Warren A. Brown, said he had thought Jessamy might drop the charges.
"I knew they would," Brown said. "Every opportunity Pat Jessamy gets, she's going to make the Police Department look bad."
Burns, who called Bundley's arrest "overreaching and frivolous," said that dropping a case such as this is routine.
Jessamy's spokeswoman said prosecutors decline to prosecute about 30 percent of arrests such as loitering, shoplifting and public nuisance charges because of legal insufficiency, or because they are minor offenses that were "abated by the arrest."
Burns also said prosecutors could not remember the last time they charged someone for putting campaign handbills on car windshields.
Bundley was issued a criminal citation on a misdemeanor count of violating a city ordinance that forbids people from placing advertising circulars, notices or other printed items on a vehicle without the owner's permission. A conviction carries a maximum fine of $50.
The incident happened about 11:15 p.m. as Bundley and campaign worker Derrick Compton, 32, were going car to car under the Jones Falls Expressway at Saratoga Street, near Hammerjacks nightclub.
Bundley said he had placed a handbill on two cars and was about to place another when Officer Kenneth Lane, who was standing nearby, shouted, "Hey, stop that!"
"Stop what?" Bundley said he replied, as he placed the third handbill on a car.
He said that Lane quickly cuffed him. After checking his identification, the officer released him.
Bundley has complained that the city is unfairly targeting his campaign, which officials deny.
The city's Public Works Department recently issued 79 civil citations -- carrying at least a $100 penalty each -- to Bundley's campaign for illegally placing campaign signs on utility poles and public property.
By contrast, city workers cited O'Malley's campaign twice for illegal campaign signs.