Police 'defamed' him, says Staten

NAACP official says he was arrested but never charged

March 08, 2009|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,brent.jones@baltsun.com

The vice president of Baltimore's NAACP chapter said yesterday during a rally for taxicab drivers that his reputation has been damaged after police arrested him, claiming to have found drugs in his car.

Ellis L. Staten Jr., 44, was not charged with a crime, although officers said they recovered heroin and marijuana during a search of his vehicle Thursday near Pennsylvania Avenue and Dolphin Street.

Staten said he was targeted by police because of his work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which held an organizing meeting yesterday for city cabdrivers.

Staten had no previous drug charges or criminal convictions.

Shortly before the arrest, Staten said, he was near a bus stop attempting to solicit cabdrivers to come to the meeting.

Police came up to the car, Staten said, and asked him to step out, searched the vehicle and handcuffed him. Staten said he was held at downtown police headquarters for about an hour before he was released.

Staten said he had never been locked up in his life and that the incident has "defamed my character."

"I'm calm now on the outside, but I'm not on the inside. I'm very troubled that this type of information would be made public but no charges filed."

Staten added that he has been in contact with a lawyer to consider litigation.

A police spokesman said yesterday that the allegations against the Police Department are unfounded.

"I'm not going to justify them with a comment," Anthony Guglielmi said.

Staten said the drugs that police found belonged to a volunteer who was helping pass out fliers about the rally. Kevin Logan, 44, who was in the back seat of the car, was charged with two counts of drug possession.

But police said they found Staten in possession of Suboxone pills, or buprenorphine, which is prescribed to treat heroin addiction.

"They singled me out because I'm the one responsible for getting the cabdrivers together. No more perfect person to defame than the NAACP," Staten said.

"If the police had found something on me, why would they release me? I'm stunned. I'm shocked. I wasn't in possession of any drugs or anything. That's why I was not charged."

More than 100 taxi drivers attended the meeting at the Vulcan Blazers headquarters.

Staten is one of the lead organizers in the NAACP's work with the drivers, who are considering forming a union.

NAACP officials said the drivers are faced with about a dozen issues, including a 55-cent drop in mileage rates. A Baltimore Circuit Court judge granted city taxi drivers a temporary injunction last week to stop the state Public Service Commission from adjusting the rate until a hearing scheduled March 25.

"Association dues are going up, insurance is going up and now a meter change," said Rurie Lindsay, 57, a driver for 13 years. "It's leaving us in a vulnerable position."

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