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Wrongful death suit filed against Baltimore police

The family of a man who died in police custody has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Baltimore police, alleging that Anthony Anderson Sr. was viciously beaten by three officers before he died.

The suit, filed in Baltimore federal court late last week, names as defendants the three detectives involved in the arrest Sept. 21, 2012 — Todd A. Strohman, Gregory Boyd and Michael Vodarick — as well as the Baltimore Police Department.

"Defendant Strohman placed Anderson Sr., in handcuffs and Defendants Strohman, Vodarick, and Boyd, began to intentionally or negligently, violently and repeatedly kick Anderson Sr., in the ribs, stomach, back, and chest for several minutes maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm," the 86-page complaint alleges. "His mother, daughter, son, and two-year-old granddaughter, and many on-lookers, watched and witnessed the brutal attack from a very short distance away."

The Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.

An official investigation found that the detectives used reasonable force in subduing Anderson, 46, and, in January, the Baltimore state's attorney's office declined to file charges against the three officers.

The prosecutors' report said the only physical force involved in Anderson's death was when Strohman tackled him to the ground.

Strohman's "bear hug" maneuver broke eight of Anderson's ribs and ruptured his spleen — causing internal bleeding, which, combined with an underlying medical problem, led to Anderson's death.

Experts have said that such tackles are commonly employed by undercover officers trying to make arrests, but Anderson's family alleged in the lawsuit that the department has failed to properly train officers in the use of force or to discipline officers who step over the line.

iduncan@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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