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Baltimore approves $95,000 settlement in 'rough ride' lawsuit

Baltimore City agreed to pay $95,000 to a woman who says she was given a rough ride in a police van.

Baltimore's spending panel voted unanimously Wednesday to pay a woman $95,000 to settle a lawsuit that included allegations she was subjected to a "rough ride" in a police van in 2012.

The Board of Estimates voted 5-0 to settle a federal lawsuit involving a woman who said she was thrown in the back of a police van, not buckled in a seat belt, and "maniacally" driven around after her arrest at a party in Hampden. Christine Abbott, 28, said she was slammed against the van's wall during the ride, which left her feeling like "a piece of cargo."

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City Solicitor George Nilson, a member of the board, said the alleged "rough ride" was not a "central issue" in the city's decision to settle. "There were no injuries resulting from the woman's transport in the van," he said. He added that the van driver denied operating the vehicle in an erratic manner.

More concerning to city officials, Nilson said, was that during Abbott's altercation with police, one of her breasts was left exposed.

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"A 90-pound woman would not appear to present a safety challenge," Nilson said. He added that the city had "lawyers fees running" in federal court, and it made financial sense to end the litigation.

Both City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt voted for the settlement. But Young said he believed Abbott bore some responsibility for the altercation.

"She was interfering with police duties," Young said.

The board also approved a $125,000 settlement to a man shot in the arm and stomach by an officer in January 2013. Dameatrice Moore was shot as Officer Quinton Smith tried to break up a rowdy crowd in North Baltimore.

Nilson said the people settling with the city have signed agreements preventing them from talking to the news media.

Since 2011, the city has paid nearly $13 million in settlements and court judgments for lawsuits alleging brutality and other police misconduct. In such settlements, the city and its officers do not acknowledge wrongdoing.

In September, the city agreed to a $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Grey, who died this year after he suffered injuries in the back of police van. Six officers are charged in that case. All have pleaded not guilty.

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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