Man who says officer used Taser on him twice may get $95,000

Board of Estimates asked to approve settlement in possible police misconduct case

February 28, 2011|By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

A man who said a Baltimore police officer strip-searched him on a public street and used a Taser on him twice while he was in handcuffs has agreed to settle a civil suit he filed against the city and is being offered $95,000.

The settlement awaits approval by the Board of Estimates, the city's spending panel, which scheduled the item for Wednesday. The amount is listed in court records and on the Board of Estimates' agenda.

Donte T. Harris sued Officer Babatunda Orlsadelle after he was arrested in April 2007 while walking to a store on Woodbine Avenue in West Baltimore. He said officers stopped him to look for drugs, but none were found. He was charged with disorderly conduct and disobeying a police officer; prosecutors did not pursue either charge.

City Solicitor George Nilson said Harris resisted arrest by head-butting and kicking the officer, but he said police are now trained to avoid using a Taser "on someone in handcuffs." He also said the probable cause for the arrest "was soft here."

Nilson said in an e-mail that there were a "bunch of unseemly remarks back and forth" between Harris and Orlsadelle and that each offered a different version of the events.

"I don't want to dignify or seem to credit [the] plaintiff's version by repeating it," Nilson said. "I don't believe [the] plaintiff's version, but one never knows which version [a] jury will go with."

Orlsadelle joined the city force in February 2001. A police spokesman, Detective Donny Moses, said Orlsadelle is currently assigned to the Northern District but has been suspended with pay since August 2010 pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Attorneys representing both the officer and Harris did not return phone calls seeking comment.

According to his lawsuit, Harris and a friend, Charles Williams, were stopped, searched and put into the back of a police car in handcuffs. The officers told them the charge was for loitering. They called a police wagon to take the two men to Central Booking for processing.

It was then that Orlsadelle took Harris out of the car and patted him down, as is customary before putting a suspect in the transport wagon. "Then he unzipped [Harris'] pants and fondled and then grabbed his testicles," according to the lawsuit.

In the suit, Harris said he responded, "Hey, man, you ain't supposed to be doing that." He said the officer grabbed harder, causing him to step back in pain. He said the officer repeatedly asked him, "Do you have anything on you?" and then lifted up Harris' shirt and "placed the taser to his stomach."

Harris said he responded: "I don't think you should do that. I don't think Internal Affairs would like that."

The suit says Orlsadelle hit Harris with the Taser on the right side of his stomach and then hit him on the left side of the stomach after he had fallen down. At the time, the suit says, Harris was in handcuffs. The lawsuit says the officer never informed anyone that he had used his Taser.

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

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