Four Howard County police officers accused of brutality by a Columbia man prevailed last week following an eight-day circuit court trial.
Accusations against two of the officers were dropped during the trial at the request of defense attorneys, and the jury ruled in favor of the third on July 17.
The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the fourth officer, so a mistrial was declared.
The civil suit, filed in February of 2011, was the third filed by Melvin Yates, Jr. over a six-month span. It stemmed from an incident in April 2010 in which Yates claimed officers beat him while he was in handcuffs.
Howard County senior assistant county solicitor Cynthia Peltzman said the county was pleased with the outcome.
"We really appreciate the jury's hard work in this case and were gratified that the verdict recognized the professionalism of the Howard County police officers, who acted appropriately to defuse a potentially dangerous situation," she said.
Anitha Johnson, Yates' attorney, said Yates was "disappointed" with the outcome and will pursue a retrial of the fourth officer in a separate civil suit.
On the night of the incident, Yates, then 23, was attending a celebration of his father, who had died a year earlier, at a Jessup restaurant. A fight broke out at the event, and police were called.
Police said that Yates was extremely angry and loud, and ripped the nameplate and tie of an officer attempting to put him in handcuffs.
Yates said he was complying with the officers and was slammed into a police car for no apparent reason.
In October 2010, a jury found Yates not guilty of assaulting police and resisting arrest in criminal court. However, Yates was found guilty of disorderly conduct and failing to obey a police officer. He received probation before judgment.
In June of that year, Yates filed a $50 million federal civil rights suit, accusing police of brutality. The case was dismissed in August after Yates' attorney Anitha Johnson failed to respond to a court order to throw the case out. Johnson's attempt to file a nearly identical suit in September was also rejected.
Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said this week's verdict reaffirmed his belief that the officers reacted in a professional manner in a difficult situation.
"I expect our officers to take appropriate action when confronted with unlawful behavior, as was the case in this incident," McMahon said.