A man shot by police in his Arnold home and his wife filed suit against three police officers, the Anne Arundel County Police Department and the county in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Monday, alleging that police violated the man's civil rights and used excessive force when they came to his home to return his wife to a hospital for an evaluation.
The lawsuit by Michael A. and Leah Housley was filed exactly one year after three Anne Arundel County police officers arrived at the couple's door at the request of a hospital seeking to have police return Leah Housley after she had left the emergency room earlier in the day without being discharged.
The suit also comes less than a week after Michael Housley, a 52-year-old operator of a boat care business, was fined $500 by Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom for hindering police by barring them from entering the family's home. The lawsuit repeats much of the defense from the criminal case, but more clearly targets the officer who shot Michael Housley, alleging that Doyle Holquist Jr. was "not fit to carry out his duties as a police officer" and claiming the department was negligent in employing him.
Spokesmen for Anne Arundel County police and County Executive John R. Leopold declined to discuss the 11-count, 24-page lawsuit.
"I'm not going to comment on the complaint or anything about the case until I see the complaint," said Anne Arundel County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages to compensate the Housleys and punish the county and police. Last week, Michael Housley, who has noticeable scars, said that he remains in pain from the bullet that shattered his jaw and that he will need more surgery for his face, jaw and neck.
Michael S. Neall, one of the couple's lawyers, said "it is a distinct possibility" that the Housleys' legal team will contact the U.S. Justice Department to ask for an investigation. The agency can look into allegations of civil rights violations by police. The shooting of Housley was the third by an Anne Arundel officer in two weeks.
"The police, in this case, violated the sanctity of his home and assaulted him in a horrific way," Neall said.
Holquist, a former Baltimore officer hired by Anne Arundel in 2005, was shot in the leg in 2007 by a bank robbery suspect he was chasing and later fatally shot. The lawsuit alleges that Holquist was traumatized by that incident, and since then has had professional and personal issues that, while inadmissible in the criminal case, could come to light in civil proceedings.
In June, a jury convicted Michael Housley of hindering police, but found him not guilty of the more serious charges of assaulting the officers, who kicked in the glass door of the couple's home in an attempt to retrieve Leah Housley. She said she told police she would come outside, but first wanted to confine the family's 90-pound dog. When she turned around, she said, officers had burst in.
Police maintained Holquist shot Michael Housley in a scuffle after pepper spray and two jolts with a Taser failed to subdue him, and he raised a chair against an officer. The defense countered that Michael Housley was cowering behind the chair. Last week, Judge Caroom faulted both Housley and the officers, laying more blame on police for the way the incident escalated. Housley is expected to appeal the conviction.