The Lutherville psychology firm that's under investigation for allegedly rushing mental health screenings of prospective Baltimore police officers also treated — and cleared for duty — an officer who killed herself last year, her family says in a lawsuit.

Officer Angeline Todman shot herself with her service weapon in February 2014 after a long battle with bipolar disorder and depression.


Her family says in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed in June that Psychology Consultants Associated and its president, Dr. Kenneth Sachs, are partly to blame for Todman's suicide because they told the department that she was fit to return to work in Southeast Baltimore despite erratic behavior and pleas from the family that she not be given access to her department-issued handgun.

"Dr. Sachs' recommendation that Officer Todman could return to patrol for The Baltimore City Police, one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in one of the most dangerous cities in America, was forensically negligent," Marc Rosen, an attorney for Todman's husband and mother, wrote in the complaint filed in Baltimore Circuit Court.

The lawsuit also names as defendants Loretta Elizalde, a licensed clinical professional counselor for PCA who the family says treated Todman; psychology firm Columbia Counseling Center and one of its contracted psychiatrists, Dr. Jing Zhang, who they say treated Todman; former Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts; and Lt. John Wendall, one of Todman's supervisors at the department.

"It should have been obvious that a person with bipolar disorder who was dealing with episodes of depression and medication noncompliance is susceptible to doing something that would result in someone getting hurt," Rosen said in an interview Thursday. "It didn't take long for her to be challenged with the stresses of the position and to be overcome by them."

Attorneys for Sachs and PCA did not respond Thursday to requests for comment. In a court filing, the defendants have denied liability for Todman's death.

Baltimore's inspector general and law department are investigating allegations that PCA was completing evaluations of prospective officers in as little as 15 minutes despite a requirement in its $730,000, two-year contract with the city that those evaluations last at least an hour.

Maryland State Police conducted a similar investigation and found that the company was completing evaluations of troopers in as little as 15 minutes despite a state contract requirement that those evaluations last at least 45 minutes, officials said.

The company has retained its $400,000, five-year contract with the state police, officials said, but is on "probation."

Todman's family says in the lawsuit that her behavior could not be predicted from day to day, that she once "put on her uniform and accosted children who were playing outside" and once jumped out of her car while it was moving because she thought she was being followed.

The family says Sachs and the rest of her medical team were aware that Todman had a history of not following her treatment or taking her medications.

The family believed Todman was too ill to return to active patrol duty, they say in the lawsuit, but weren't listened to or consulted.

Todman completed "the technical aspects" of her gun range qualifications on Feb. 10, the family says, but the administering officer was "so troubled" by her "erratic behavior" that he refused to give her a weapon on site. The chief of patrol for the region "was aware of and was gravely concerned about" her condition, they say, but "was not contacted" about her return to patrol.

"Without the Chief of Patrol's authorization, and in violation of Baltimore City Police Department's internal protocol, Officer Todman was given unmonitored and unlimited access to her service weapon on February 11, 2014 and was returned to work, full time, as a patrol officer on the streets of Baltimore," the family wrote.

Five days later, Todman was dead.


In a response to the lawsuit, attorneys for Sachs and PCA denied all liability and asserted several defenses. They wrote that the claims are barred by the legal doctrine of contributory negligence and the statute of limitations. They also wrote that any injuries were caused by the actions of third parties or others over whom they had no control.

They requested a jury trial.

Michael Flynn, an attorney for Zhang, said she "at all times met the standard of care and denies all allegations of negligence, and the suit will be vigorously defended on her behalf."

Richard Berger, an attorney for Sachs and PCA, said his clients reject allegations that they rushed mental health screenings. But he said he could not comment on the Todman case because he does not represent them in those proceedings.

Joan Cerniglia-Lowensen, an attorney for Columbia Counseling Center, which is composed mostly of psychologists, said the center had little involvement in Todman's psychiatric care, which it had contracted out to Zhang.

"We are not psychiatrists," she said, "so we do not supervise the activities of psychiatrists" the company contracts.

She denied the center was liable in a court filing and requested the complaint against it be dismissed.

A spokeswoman for the Police Department said she could not comment on pending litigation. Neither Batts nor Wendall could be reached. Elizalde could not be reached and did not have an attorney listed in court records.

The city and agencies with ties to PCA said Thursday they were reviewing their relationships with the firm.

"The mental well-being of our officers is very important," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

On hearing the allegations that PCA was rushing through mental health screenings, Rawlings-Blake said, she asked "what steps could be taken to remedy the situation, including probation and suspension."

"We want to get to the bottom of it," she said.

Morgan State University has used PCA to evaluate its campus police officers. Spokesman Clint Coleman said, "There has been no apparent problem associated with the MSUPD's use of this firm, [but] the department is currently evaluating whether there may be a need to have recent recruits re-evaluated using a different company."

Coleman said the school believes only one current officer would be affected.

The Baltimore City school system paid $643,000 to PCA for services between 2001 and 2008, did not receive services from the company in 2009 or 2010, and has paid it $22,430 since 2011, a spokeswoman said. She did not respond to questions on whether the allegations raised concerns for school officials.

The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services said it has not received any complaints about PCA. The agency is in the process of renewing its contract with the company.

Rosen, the Todman family's attorney, contracted an outside forensic psychiatrist to review records of her care from the Police Department, PCA, Sachs, Zhang and Northwest Hospital.


That psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey S. Janofsky, reported that Todman was hospitalized multiple times from January 2013 to January 2014, suffered "two separate episodes of severe psychosis," engaged in "bizarre behavior" and exhibited a pattern of noncompliance with medicine or treatment.

"Doctor Sachs, in his reports, did acknowledge this history of non-compliance with both medicine and treatment, yet failed to take such non-compliance into consideration when formulating his final opinion allowing Officer Todman to return to full duty with access to her service weapon," Janofsky wrote.

He concluded that both Sachs and Elizalde "breached the standard of care" by failing to collect information from her family members, and that Zhang never should have offered to agree to Todman returning to patrol work.

"These failures, in my opinion," Janofsky wrote, "led directly to Officer Todman's completed suicide."

Baltimore Sun reporters Jessica Anderson and Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.