Officer linked to 3 settlements

Kevin E. Johnson claimed he was attacked by two Baltimore police officers, thrown to the ground headfirst as he tried to get into his truck and beaten. The city settled his lawsuit, and the Board of Estimates is expected to approve a $125,000 payout today.

Cynthia S. Johnson said undercover officers assaulted her as she walked into a liquor store with her daughter and roughed her up during her arrest. She settled her lawsuit last fall for $12,000.

Herman, Mable and Nicole Young -- a father and mother, and their pregnant daughter -- got into an altercation with officers inside their home. The city paid them $50,000 to settle their claims.

A police officer involved in all three cases: Jemini Jones, assigned to the Southwestern District.

Jones, 28, is one of the three officers who worked in a Police Department "flex squad" in the city's Southwestern neighborhoods and who have been indicted on rape charges. Prosecutors say he forced a 22-year-old woman to have sex with him in exchange for her freedom from possible drug charges last month; the other two officers were charged with rape for allegedly doing nothing to stop him.

In each of the three civil cases, Jones and other officers who were sued denied the allegations against them and did not admit any fault or wrongdoing.

Last week, Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm said the department had investigated allegations of misconduct against some officers in the Southwestern flex squad as far back as 2002.

Police officials have said that Jones and another officer in the Southwestern flex squad had complaints against them, causing them to be "flagged" by the department's "early warning" program. The officers were ordered into remedial training in 2003.

The city solicitor's office could not provide information yesterday on how much has been spent on settlements of police-related lawsuits.

Jones joined the department in March 2000 in patrol. He was eventually sent to work in the Southwestern District's drug enforcement and flex squad.

While he was still in patrol in May 2001, Jones and other officers had an encounter at Mable Young's house in the 1900 block of Hollins St. Jones chased one of Young's sons into her house and brought him out in handcuffs, she said yesterday.

During that incident, Jones and several other officers entered the home and also handcuffed Mable Young, her husband and their daughter, who was five months' pregnant, according to court documents. They were taken to Central Booking and Intake Center and held for 12 hours, but charges against them were eventually dismissed, court documents say.

"I've dealt with several officers in the Southwestern," Mable Young said about her family's encounters with Jones. She said Jones' actions -- resulting in the $50,000 settlement -- did not represent the officers in that district. "The majority of the officers in the Southwestern District are respectable, and they treat you respectfully, and they're fair."

More than two years later, Kevin E. Johnson said he was on his lunch break, visiting a grocery store in Southwest Baltimore. As he returned to his truck, two officers in plainclothes "pulled him down from his truck, choked him, threw him to the ground, headfirst, then punched him in the mouth and eye with such force that [Johnson] was knocked unconscious," his lawsuit states.

The officers, Jones and Norris Wells, stated in court documents that they saw the man come from a vacant lot while holding "an object" clenched in his fist.

When Jones approached the man, he said, the man tried to place the object in his mouth. Jones said he grabbed the man by the arm to retrieve the object when Johnson fell backward and hit his head on the pavement.

The court papers state that two gel caps were recovered. But Johnson's attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, said his client was never charged with a crime.

"It was an open, blatant attack, without any provocation whatsoever, other than what [the officers] allegedly thought he had," Pettit said.

Pettit said that his client has residual head injuries. The city Board of Estimates is scheduled to vote today on approving a $125,000 payment to Johnson to settle his lawsuit.

The next case involving Jones stemmed from an incident that occurred several months after his encounter with Johnson. Jones and four other officers -- Wells, Ronald Kessler, Earl Thompson and Timothy Devine -- were working undercover Nov. 18, 2003, conducting reverse drug stings in which some officers posed as drug dealers near Ashburton Street and Ellicott Drive.

The five officers said in court documents that Cynthia S. Johnson kept warning people in the block that the men were officers, and police arrested her.

Johnson tells a different story in court papers. She said she was walking to a liquor store with her daughter about 2 p.m. when she noticed a large group of men near the store.

"Something must be going on," Johnson said to her daughter, court papers show. As she entered the store, the officers "assaulted" her, threw her to the ground and handcuffed her, Johnson alleged. She was taken to Central Booking and held for about eight hours before she was released without charges, court documents say.

The suit was settled in November for $12,000, records show. Devine was initially named as a defendant in the lawsuit but was dismissed from the case before the city settled.


This article incorrectly included Officer Timothy Devine as a defendant in a lawsuit against police officers in Baltimore's Southwestern District when it was published in the print edition. The Sun regrets the error.

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