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City pays $500,000 to settle suit over grandfather's arrest, beating

Baltimore's spending panel agreed on Wednesday to pay $500,000 to two grandparents after police arrested them on dubious charges of kidnapping their own grandson — and the grandfather was severely beaten in the city's Central Booking and Intake Facility.

Aubrey Knox, 60, and Lena Knox, 58, of Northwest Baltimore, sued four police officers over the 2007 arrests, claiming they were illegally arrested and that Aubrey Knox was not protected from other inmates while in custody of jail officials.

In a memo to the Board of Estimates this week, Deputy City Solicitor David E. Ralph wrote that Aubrey Knox suffered "serious" injuries, and that the city's law department had concerns about "whether there were sufficient facts" for the arrest in the first place.

The allegations stem from Aug. 10, 2007, when police received a call from a mother who claimed her child had been kidnapped by the Knoxes. Officers investigated and found that the boy was not with them, according to the law department memo. Later, officers learned the boy was in Virginia with his father and that the mother had relinquished custody of the child more than a year earlier, the memo said.

Two of the officers asked the Knoxes to return the boy to Maryland. When they refused to do so, police arrested them, detaining them overnight in Baltimore's Central Booking and Intake Facility, according to the city.

"During the night, Aubrey Knox was savagely beaten by other inmates while under the care and responsibility of the defendants," said the Knoxes' lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. According to the suit, Knox suffered "permanent injury to his head, face, arms, eyes and body, and in particular, his kidneys." He suffered kidney failure and must undergo dialysis regularly, the suit said. The city's payment settles the lawsuit.

When the grandparents were brought to trial, the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office dropped all charges against the Knoxes, records show. The Knoxes' arrest came at a time when arrest rates were high in Baltimore, which resulted in crowded conditions at Central Booking.

In another action Wednesday, the Board of Estimates approved a $50,000 settlement to a Baltimore boy who was injured in a school locker room that had fallen into disrepair. For weeks, a broken locker featured a "large, sharp dangerous piece of metal" — and the boy cut his face so badly he needed plastic surgery, according to city documents.

Luke.Broadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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