A Baltimore County man suffered a "diabetic attack," causing him to act abnormally when police tried to restrain him and then pepper sprayed and Tasered him, resulting in his death, according to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit brought by his wife against county and state police.
Linda Johnson says her husband, Carl D'Andre Johnson, who died shortly after he fought with officers two years ago, "would experience an episode of low blood sugar [and] he would have some difficulty, sometimes acting erratically, and would react negatively to being touched," in a suit filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court last month.
Linda Johnson and her attorney, Mark Millstein, did not return calls seeking comment Monday. Baltimore County and state police spokeswomen declined comment, citing ongoing litigation.
Carl D'Andre Johnson, 48, of Windsor Mill, was heading to a friend's home after a Bible study class just after 8 p.m. May 27, 2010, when he crashed his Toyota pickup truck while driving southbound on Interstate 795, causing him to drive off the road near the interchange with the Beltway, police said.
State trooper Davon Parker of the Golden Ring Barrack was the first to arrive at the scene, the suit says. He knocked on Johnson's driver-side window, trying to speak with Johnson, but Johnson did not immediately respond. Eventually, Johnson put his window down and told the trooper he wanted to go home. Parker realized Johnson was acting abnormally and attempted to reach through the window to open the door when Johnson grabbed his hand, causing the trooper to pepper spray Johnson, the suit says.
At that point, a Baltimore County police officer arrived and struck Johnson in the left knee with a baton. When Johnson got out of his truck and Parker attempted to handcuff him, he "reacted by moving his hand away," the suit says. At that point, Baltimore County police officer Nicholas Wolferman and another officer threw Johnson over a guard rail. Several other officers arrived to help restrain Johnson.
Baltimore County police officer Andrew O'Neil said he was a Taser operator and Tasered Johnson in the back. When Johnson tried to stand up, another county police officer, Kenneth Brown, Tasered Johnson a second time in the torso, the suit says.
Police use Tasers to restrain belligerent or potentially dangerous suspects. The weapons shoot a pair of electrodes attached to wires, which deliver an electric current that causes pain and muscle contraction, leading to temporary paralysis.
The suit describes several officers continuing to struggle with Johnson, including punching him in the face and using "excessive force" but failing to look at the medical alert card in his wallet. Several officers placed Johnson in leg shackles and continued to "forcibly hold Mr. Johnson down to the ground even though the body of Mr. Johnson was no longer moving," the suit says.
According to the suit, a witness said at one point Johnson "was laying on his back with his hands up in the air, shouting, 'help,' numerous times."
By 9:31 p.m., Johnson was unresponsive and an officer noticed he was not breathing, the suit says. He was taken to the Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, where he was pronounced dead at 10:10 p.m.
Johnson had no arrest history in Maryland, according to public documents.
A Baltimore County police spokesman at the time said Johnson did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.