Sun Investigates:

Baltimore officials agree to pay $147,000 to settle excessive-force suit against police

Baltimore officials have agreed to pay $147,000 to settle an excessive-force lawsuit against five police officers.

The Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, voted to award the money last week after a jury found in favor of the two men — Leo Joseph Green and James Green — who filed suit against Officers Nicholas Chapman, Daraine Harris, Brian Loiero, Marcus Smothers and Nathan Ulmer.

The suit alleged battery, false arrest and violations of constitutional rights.

At issue was an incident that occurred June 13, 2013, in the 6000 block of Moravia Road in Northeast Baltimore, where Leo Green was driving a white Acura with a brake light out. His brother, James Green, was a passenger.

Officers Loiero, Harris and Smothers, who were patrolling the area in an unmarked vehicle, stopped the car and then were joined by Officers Ulmer and Chapman, according to the suit.

During the traffic stop, James Green became agitated and demanded that the officers justify their stop of the vehicle, according to city officials. An argument broke out between James Green and Smothers, the suit said.

Smothers performed a pat-down of James Green, and when he swatted the officer’s arm away, Smothers placed him under arrest, the city said.

James Green resisted, and Harris shocked him with a Taser, according to the city.

Leo Green tried to intercede on his brother’s behalf but was physically restrained and then arrested as well. Both spent a night in jail.

In their lawsuit against the officers, the Greens said the officers were verbally abusive and used excessive force. Lawyers for the officers denied those claims.

A jury in Baltimore Circuit Court found in favor of the Greens in August, returning a verdict for $147,100 in economic and noneconomic damages, as well as $40,000 in punitive damages. The jury found that each of the five officers involved acted with “actual malice.”

Citing state law, city officials maintain they are not liable for punitive damages.

The settlement means taxpayers have paid out more than $1.2 million in two years to settle three cases in which Officer Chapman was a defendant.

Earlier this year, the family of Tyrone West was paid $1 million by the city and state to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit alleging police misconduct and excessive force.

Last year, a jury awarded Abdul Salaam $70,000 after he filed a civil suit against Chapman and other officers alleging that he was beaten during a July 1, 2013, traffic stop in Northeast Baltimore.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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