Baltimore expected to pay $500,000 resolving 2 lawsuits over police chase that ended in fatal crash

The Pugh administration is poised to pay $500,000 to resolve litigation stemming from a 2013 police chase by officers in an unmarked car that contributed to the deaths of three people.

City officers pursued Terrell Young, a 28-year-old who faced drug distribution charges, for miles, reportedly abandoning the chase moments before he crashed at about 100 mph into an SUV at a North Baltimore intersection, killing Young, his passenger and a woman riding in the SUV.

On Wednesday, the Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, is expected to approve that settlement and another for $350,000, to be paid to the estate of a man who died after being struck by a city trash truck in 2016.

Young was driving a Honda Accord when he smashed into a Jeep driven by Andrew Baker Jr., 54, at Northern Parkway and York Road.

Baker's passenger, Angel Chiwengo, 46, was killed, along with Young's passenger, Devell Johns, 26. Baker had serious injuries.

The settlement will be divided among three parties, resolving two lawsuits, according to their attorneys.

In Maryland, $500,000 is the maximum a local government can be forced to pay for a single incident.

One portion will go to Chiwengo's family — including her mother, Kaumba Tshialukambo, and her son, Kyisala Lasco Nawezi — according to their attorneys, Stephen Markey and Amy Orsi.

Another portion will go to Baker. His attorney, Dwight Pettit, said Baker was Chiwengo's good friend and co-worker.

A third portion will go to Johns' family — including his mother, Marsalena Washington; his father, Wayne Johns; and Ariel Winfield, the mother of his minor daughter — according to Pettit, who represented the family.

The attorneys declined to say how the money would be divided.

In addition to the city, Young was named a defendant in the case. Orsi said a settlement also was reached to the full amount possible under an insurance policy.

The attorneys said they could not discuss the settlement in detail because of confidentiality clauses. They also said their clients did not want to discuss the settlements.

"This was a devastating event" for Chiwengo's family, Markey said. "Although they will never get over the loss of Angel, they are glad that the city has seen it fit to resolve the matter."

Pettit said Baker is still recovering from the injuries he suffered in the accident, but is "doing much, much better."

On Sept. 24, 2013, Chiwengo and Baker were traveling to see her pregnant daughter after they finished work at a Pikesville hotel, when the Accord driven by Young crashed into the Jeep.

Dispatchers had advised officers to stop pursuing Young, who continued to flee at a "high speed through a red light," according to the board agenda.

A report provided to The Baltimore Sun through a Public Information Act request showed that officers were ordered to break off their pursuit if speeds got too high, but seconds before the crash, the police car was traveling between 75 and 84 mph in a 30-mph zone.

Baltimore police were prohibited under departmental rules at the time from engaging in high-speed pursuits except in "exigent" circumstances. Prosecutors declined to bring charges against the officers after reviewing the circumstances involved for signs of "reckless disregard or a gross deviation" from agency rules.

The rule was changed in July 2016 to allow officers to pursue a fleeing vehicle if a person inside is a felony suspect who poses an immediate threat of seriously injuring or killing another person, and the officers do not believe the dangers posed by the pursuit outweigh the threat posed by the suspect.

The chase began in the 2500 block of Harford Road when three city officers working patrol in the area smelled marijuana coming from the car at a stoplight, according to the documents obtained by The Sun. The officers attempted to make a traffic stop, but the Accord fled.

Officers pursued the vehicle for 4.3 miles in less than 31/2 minutes in an unmarked Dodge Avenger with emergency lights activated. They dropped back after being told to stop pursuing, but continued to follow, one of the officers told investigators.

Young's vehicle was said to be traveling about 100 mph in a 30-mph zone with the officers traveling between 75 mph and 84 mph, crash investigators found.

Baker's vehicle was going 43 mph.

The city law department wants to settle the case "because of the extensive injuries involved, conflicting factual issues, and given the uncertainties and unpredictability of jury verdicts," according to the board agenda.

Michael E. Davey, an attorney for the officers, could not be reached for comment Monday.

T.J. Smith, a Police Department spokesman, said the case was "administratively concluded" in 2015, but that he could not discuss the department's review because of Maryland's police personnel privacy laws.

The officers — Christopher Henard, Adam Storie and Warren Bank II — were all on active-duty status Monday, Smith said.

The board also is expected to approve spending $350,000 to settle a lawsuit over a fatal accident involving a trash truck.

Johnny Lee Jones Jr. was killed in January 2016 when he was crossing the street at South Charles Street and East Fort Avenue in South Baltimore.

Jones had a "walk" signal as he was crossing the street when a city trash truck attempted to turn left on a green light onto Fort Avenue. The truck hit Jones, causing a traumatic brain injury, among other injuries.

"The Law Department's Settlement Committee reviewed the legal and factual issues of this lawsuit and recommends that the Board approve the settlement of this claim in the amount stated," according to the board agenda.

The money will be paid to Jones' estate.

An attorney representing Jones' sister in the lawsuit did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

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