Threatened with a civil rights lawsuit claiming that three men were forced to strip naked while being booked on drug charges, the Maryland Transportation Authority police chief made public yesterday more than two dozen photographs that he said show his officers "did nothing wrong."
The Washington-area men, Edward Cloyd, 29, David Lawrence, 30, and Derrick Williams, 30, are claiming that after a traffic stop in March, police officers also improperly confiscated about $10,000. The men work as exotic dancers and had been returning to the area from an engagement in Philadelphia.
Police Chief Gary W. McLhinney said a preliminary internal investigation has shown that officers took no inappropriate photographs and followed procedure. He called the men's allegations "a publicity stunt," pointing out that they included their stage names in the notice of claim of civil rights violations, which was sent Tuesday to him and to state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.
The men identify themselves as Edward "Total Package" Cloyd, David "Pain" Lawrence and Derrick "Sexecutioner" Williams.
The notice of claim - a precursor to a state lawsuit - indicates the men are seeking $5 million. Their attorney, Jimmy A. Bell of Upper Marlboro, said they also plan to file a federal lawsuit.
Yesterday, McLhinney released 29 digital photographs taken in the early hours of March 4. There are no full-body photographs, and the men appear to wear pants in each of them.
Three photographs show a large amount of cash stacked on a table. McLhinney said that money was properly seized and that the men have not requested that it be returned.
Several other photographs show the men posing for typical mug shots. The rest depict a myriad of tattoos on their upper bodies and arms.
"It's clear" the men were not naked, as they have claimed, McLhinney said. "They have their pants on, and the contents of the photographs - the inside of a forearm, the back of a neck - show exactly what the officer was doing, which was documenting unusual tattoos."
Bell questioned in a statement yesterday whether police have released all of the photographs that were taken of the men. He called McLhinney's assertion that his officers did nothing wrong "hogwash."
McLhinney said that there are no other photographs. He said it is typical for officers to document visible markings on people who have been arrested.
All charges from the March 4 arrest have been dropped by Baltimore prosecutors.