City settles two lawsuits involving alleged police misconduct

July 16, 2014|By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore officials agreed Wednesday to settle two lawsuits involving alleged police misconduct, costing the city a combined $88,500.

The city's spending panel, the Board of Estimates, approved a settlement for $62,000 after a group of men say they were falsely arrested and subject to an unwarranted use of force by a police officer inside a city parking garage in June 2012.

The board also approved the settlement of a case for $26,500 involving a husband and wife and their friend who alleged that they were wrongly arrested around 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2012 while a Baltimore club was closing.

City Solicitor George Nilson said the city decided to settle rather than take the cases to a jury trial, which the city "sought to avoid." The amounts reached in the settlement were "consistent with medical expenses and the time of detention."

In the first case, Bolaji Obe, Akinola Adesanya and Ademuyiwa Okupe returned to the Water Street public garage at 2 a.m. on June 17 to get their car when Det. Michael McSpadden approached them, according to a memo of settlement agreement.

McSpadden allegedly accused Obe of urinating in "his garage," and then demanded Obe show him his ID, which Obe says he did.

McSpadden then allegedly told Obe to come with him into an office in the garage, ordering the others to wait outside. Okupe said he tried at that point to find a police supervisor, but was cuffed by McSpadden, the memo says.

Next, the plaintiffs allege McSpadden cuffed Adesanya and "forcibly pushed him to the ground."

McSpadden alleges that Obe began yelling and screaming in an unfamiliar language and threatened to kill him. The officer said he warned Obe that he could be arrested if he didn't stop yelling.

Meanwhile, McSpadden said Adesanya was on the curb yelling, and that the behavior of the men caused crowd to form around the office, according to the memo.

McSpadden says when he turned around, Obe jumped out of his seat with clenched fists. McSpadden then struck Obe on the left side of this face to defend himself, the settlement says.

The plaintiffs deny taking any action that would have warranted the use of force.

The men each sought $75,000 from the city for their injuries and because of the arrests.

"Because of the starkly disputed factual and legal issues in the case, and given the uncertainties and unpredictability of jury verdicts, the parties propose to settle this matter for a total sum of $62,000," the memo says.

In the second case, Leah Forde, her husband, Keiron Forde, and their friend Gareth Adams allege that they were leaving the Select Lounge when they were falsely arrested, according to the settlement.

There were a number of officers in the club when the lights came on, and police began to order everyone out. The groups says it was part of the first wave of people to exit the club, and stood about 20 feet from the entrance, directly next to a parking lot.

The memo says that Adams was speaking to a friend who worked for the club about settling up their tab after the group had been served in the club's VIP space.

Officer Kimberly Darden then allegedly approached the group and asked them to leave. The plaintiffs say they did not realize the officer was speaking to them because they were among a crowd of people, and they continued to talk as they started to move toward their car, according to the settlement.

Darden then arrested Adams for failing to obey a lawful order and for disorderly conduct. When Keiron Forde says he questioned why Darden arrested Adams, she arrested him for the same reasons as his friend, according to the memo.

Next, Darden arrested Leah Forde after the officer had ordered her to leave, and Leah Forde questioned the officer about how she was supposed to leave when the vehicle was blocked by a police van.

The group, which sought $150,000 in damages, was taken to the city's Central Booking, where they were held until the evening.

The suit was settled because of conflicting factual issues and "legal concerns about the lawfulness of the arrests," the memo says.

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