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Judge dismisses mistaken identity lawsuit against Annapolis police Sgt. Christopher Kintop

In 2012, then-Cpl. Christopher Kintop, left, celebrated with Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop, center, and others after winning a heat in the annual city tug-of-war across Spa Creek. In 2020, a judge dropped a lawsuit against Kintop Thursday, ruling the police sergeant is protected by immunity.
In 2012, then-Cpl. Christopher Kintop, left, celebrated with Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop, center, and others after winning a heat in the annual city tug-of-war across Spa Creek. In 2020, a judge dropped a lawsuit against Kintop Thursday, ruling the police sergeant is protected by immunity.(Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A lawsuit against Annapolis police Sgt. Christopher Kintop, who wrote a faulty warrant that resulted in the repeated arrest of an Edgewater man, has ended with the judge ruling Kintop is protected by immunity.

James Bailey sued Annapolis and its police department a second time in 2019 after he was arrested again on a faulty outstanding warrant first issued in 2007. Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Morris ruled Jan. 9 that Kintop and other officers named in the lawsuit were performing lawful duties in their official capacity as police officers and are consequently immune from the suit.

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"We appreciate the court's decision on this matter. We think it was the right decision,” Annapolis City Attorney Michael D. Lyles said Wednesday.

Bailey’s lawyers said they plan to appeal.

Bailey was awarded $4,600 in 2011 lawsuit after he was misidentified in a warrant and arrested in his home in 2010. He sued Annapolis again following an additional arrest in 2017 while driving on the Bay Bridge.

Kintop obtained the warrant in 2007 after a woman claimed to be assaulted by a black man described as about 5-feet, 5-inches in height and 145 pounds. Identifying the man as “James E. Bailey,” the warrant did not fit anyone with that name in Annapolis. Kintop changed the description to match Bailey, a white, 6-foot, 3-inch, 195-pound man.

In 2014, a judge ruled Kintop had incorrectly changed the warrant to match Bailey’s race and build and ordered the city to rescind it. Kintop then swore out a new warrant in 2014 for a black man described as 5-feet, 5-inches in height and 145 pounds, said Paul Weber, Bailey’s attorney.

“If (Kintop) was so certain that the complaining party did not have the right guy, or (did not) describe him correctly, why in heaven’s name would he go back and swear to a District Court commissioner that the information he had back in 2007 was now all of a sudden correct?” Weber said.

But the new warrant was filled out with personal information of Bailey, the white man from Edgewater. This led Maryland Transportation Authority Police officers to arrest him on the bridge in 2017. Bailey then sued Kintop again, claiming Kintop wrote the 2013 warrant in “retribution” of the 2011 verdict against him.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley in February 2019 blamed civilian employees in the police records office for a mistake that led to Bailey’s second arrest.

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Other Annapolis officers and dispatchers, the city of Annapolis, the Maryland Transportation Authority and three officers with Maryland Transportation Authority Police were named along with Kintop in the 2019 lawsuit.

The city filed a motion arguing that there was no dispute of material facts that would affect the outcome of the case. Morris granted the motion Thursday and found that Kintop made a discretionary decision without malice and therefore isn’t liable for negligence.

Bailey’s lawyers said they will appeal on the grounds that Bailey’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search were violated. Weber said he plans to argue that officers who apply warrants must describe individuals with particularity.

“Officer Kintop swore out warrants on four separate occasions without knowing who was to be arrested and definitely not describing that individual with any particularity,” Weber said.

Kintop’s case was brought up Tuesday night at the Caucus of African-American Leaders during a discussion on how police handle officers whose credibility is questioned. In 2019, the county NAACP called for an investigation into the sergeant following a federal lawsuit involving the mistaken identity of a robbery suspect. That lawsuit was later dismissed.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she has a list of hundreds of police officers suspected of misconduct. Caucus members wanted to know what protocol was in place in city and county police departments to manage officers with integrity issues.

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Anne Arundel State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, Annapolis Police Chief Ed Jackson and Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare said they do not keep a list like Mosby’s. Instead, they have a notification system to inform defense attorneys of any officers under investigation for a crime, integrity violation or facing suspension.

“It’s very, very rare, I have never seen anybody who’s redeemed a police officer in Annapolis Police Department or Anne Arundel County who has a serious integrity violation,” Colt Leitess said.

Kintop remains an officer with Annapolis police.

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