Ex-police chief, 2 city deputies sue O'Malley in firings

Lawsuit alleges dismissals were race-related

November 15, 2007|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun reporter

Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark and two of his deputies have filed a $20 million federal lawsuit against Gov. Martin O'Malley, former City Solicitor Ralph Tyler and four police officers, alleging that their firings nearly three years ago by then-Mayor O'Malley were racially driven.

Clark was hired in 2003 from New York and fired 21 months into the job amid allegations that he had been involved in a domestic dispute with his fiancee in North Baltimore. O'Malley called the allegations - which were unsubstantiated - a distraction to the city's effort to fight crime. Clark later said he was terminated after he started to investigate alleged corruption at City Hall.

In the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Clark alleges that he and former deputies Joel Francis and Anthony Romano "were removed or terminated from their positions in the BPD because of their race. Defendants have never initiated or undertaken such actions against white members of the BPD."

Clark and Francis, both dismissed in December 2004, are black. Romano, who was fired in February 2005, is white.

A spokeswoman for O'Malley said the case has no merit and referred questions to the city. Anthony McCarthy, a spokesman for O'Malley's successor, Mayor Sheila Dixon, said she will reserve comment.

The plaintiffs are represented by Neal M. Janey, a former city solicitor. Janey did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In the federal lawsuit, Clark gives more details of how he said he was removed from office. He said "over 50 additional and heavily armed members of the BPD, including all the SWAT team members, broke into and entered and directed other members of the BPD to break into and enter the executive offices of Clark, Francis and Romano. They ransacked desks, credenzas and file cabinets."

The other defendants - Rodney Giacomelli, David Engel, Stephen McMahon and Carl Gutberlet - worked for the Police Department.

Clark also alleges in the lawsuit that he and his deputies were "stopped, detained, held in custody and seized." The lawsuit alleges that they were not allowed to contact family members or attorneys, though none had been "charged with any crime."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

Online

Related coverage at baltimoresun.com/clark

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