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Baltimore County

Baltimore County police violated couple’s constitutional rights during 2019 encounter, federal judge rules

Baltimore County police violated the constitutional rights of a Gwynn Oak couple when officers forced them from their home at gunpoint during a February 2019 arrest, according to a federal judge, who ruled Tuesday that a resulting lawsuit could move forward.

Thomas Allotey and his fiancé, Caia Weaver, sued Baltimore County in September 2021, more than two years after police arrested them at their Gwynn Oak townhome in response to a neighbor’s 911 call about a suspected burglary on February 9, 2019, according to court documents.

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Police forced the couple from their home at gunpoint after responding to a potential burglary around 8:25 p.m. on the 2500 block of Cheshaire Drive and encountering the couple and their three children in the townhome, which the neighbor said was supposed to be vacant. Allotey and Weaver said in the suit that they had recently moved into the home.

Court documents described a chaotic scene in which officers approached the townhome, demanded Weaver and Allotey open the door and yelled at them to get on the ground after the couple opened the door with their arms up, after which Allotey ended up in the front yard and on the sidewalk of the townhome.

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One officer then pepper sprayed him, nine seconds after asking him to put his arms behind his back. Allotey was charged with second degree assault on an officer, resisting arrest, and “other criminal incident,” according to court documents.

In their lawsuit, Allotey and Weaver accused police of violating their state and federal constitutional rights against excessive force, malicious prosecution and false arrest and imprisonment.

U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson agreed in a 30-page opinion he issued Tuesday, which was first reported on by The Baltimore Banner.

“There is no doubt” that police violated Allotey and Weaver’s “constitutional right to be free from unreasonable seizure” by ordering them from their home at gunpoint without a warrant, Coulson said.

In addition, Coulson denied a request from five other officers’ for qualified immunity, allowing the civil suit to move forward to a jury trial, while granting summary judgment to a sixth officer.

Neither Baltimore County nor Allotey and Weaver’s attorney immediately responded Friday afternoon to requests for comment.


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