Man sues police over injuries

Balto. County officers are accused of assault

March 12, 2004|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

A Minnesota man is suing Baltimore County and its Police Department, saying detectives beat him severely last year as they arrested him at a Middle River home.

In his $5 million lawsuit, which was filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court late last week, Matthew T. D'Anna, 36, of Minneapolis said he tried to run from three police officers who were waiting for him March 5 last year at the home of a friend. The officers stopped him, he said, and kicked and hit him until he lost consciousness, his skull fractured.

"Our allegation is that they overreacted substantially," said David B. Irwin, D'Anna's attorney. "This was really a severe beating that was uncalled for."

Shawn Vinson, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department, said neither the department nor the detectives would comment on the lawsuit. He referred all questions about the case to the Baltimore County attorney's office.

Deputy County Attorney John Beverungen declined to comment.

All three officers named in the suit - Detective Herb Ellingson, Detective Frank Massoni and Officer David Swinney - also declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, police had a warrant for D'Anna's arrest because he did not attend a sentencing hearing in Maryland. D'Anna is a former state resident. After an officer received a tip that D'Anna would be at the Middle River home of a friend, three detectives went to that house, according to the lawsuit.

D'Anna arrived at the home, and when he saw a detective, he tried to run back out the door, the lawsuit said. The detectives then beat D'Anna, according to the suit.

According to the lawsuit, the detectives dragged D'Anna out of the home unconscious, and he was hospitalized under police guard for a week.

"Mr. D'Anna experienced multiple serious, life-threatening and permanent injuries, including bruising, a fracture to the skill, hemorrhaging in the skull and kidney failure," the lawsuit said.

The suit alleges assault, battery, negligence and violations of D'Anna's constitutional rights.

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