Mother calls arrest retribution for protests

Police deny that charges are connected to dirt-bike arrest of woman's 7-year-old son

March 26, 2007|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,Sun Reporter

Baltimore police yesterday rejected allegations by a woman who says she was the victim of retaliation for her public protests over the arrest of her 7-year-old son.

The boy, Gerard Mungo Jr., was arrested March 13 for riding a dirt bike outside his home in the 2100 block of E. Federal St. - an incident that attracted national attention and prompted an apology by Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Then on Saturday, Gerard's mother was arrested, too. Lakisa Dinkins, 31, was charged with hindering a police investigation into an apparent drug deal.

Over the past week, Dinkins publicly criticized the way the Police Department handled her son's case at a rally outside City Hall and at a news conference with mayoral candidate Andrey Bundley. Early Saturday afternoon, she appeared at a second rally outside her home, sponsored by the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

When Saturday's rally was over, Dinkins said in an interview yesterday, she went to visit her sister in the 2200 block of Prentiss Place shortly after 4 p.m. Her sister's 18-year-old son left the house to catch a cab when a man ran after him with a gun, she said. He turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Dinkins said her nephew ran back into the house and locked the door, telling the 10 relatives inside that someone was trying to rob him. Two undercover officers began kicking at the door, forcing it open.

Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, gave a different account.

He said officers observed a young man "engaged in illegal drug activity," and when they approached him, "he took off running. ... He ran into the house."

Inside, Dinkins said, an officer held a gun to the head of Dinkins' older son, who is 14, telling him to get off the telephone. She said she was trying to calm her sister when an officer asked who she was. Her sister said Dinkins was the mother of the arrested 7-year-old.

Then, Dinkins alleges, the officer grabbed her by the back of her jacket and slammed her down into a dining room chair.

"I told him to get his hands off," Dinkins said. "Once they realized who I was, they took action."

Jablow said the officers had "absolutely no idea who this woman was, none whatsoever." He denied Dinkins' account that an officer used physical force against her.

"They warned her several times, calmly and politely, to calm down and stay seated on the couch, and she refused, loudly and abusively," said Jablow, adding that Dinkins made racial slurs and cursed at one of the officers, who is white. Dinkins denied the allegation.

Police didn't find drugs in the house, and no one else was arrested. Dinkins was transported first to the Police Department's Eastern District and then to the Central Booking and Intake Center, where she was released about 10:30 p.m.

Jablow said prosecutors judged the crime to be "abated by arrest," meaning police had probable cause to arrest her but that no more jail time was warranted.

sara.neufeld@baltsun.com

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