Assault charges were dropped this week against a former Maryland State Police trooper who allegedly struck a man with his baton during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 in Harford County more than three years ago.
The case against Trooper Matin M. Dunlap, 29, of Randallstown, was dismissed Monday by the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office, according to court records. He had been charged with one count of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault and two counts of misconduct in office.
“It was absolutely the appropriate thing to do,” said Warren Brown, the Baltimore lawyer who represented Dunlap. “We were surprised they even brought charges against him.”
The Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division Northern Region launched an investigation into Dunlap’s actions following complaints from two other state troopers involved in the October 2015 traffic stop and arrest. Dunlap was indicted by a Harford County Grand Jury in April 2016.
Brown said this week that Dunlap used his police baton to try and subdue the driver, who was resisting, and in the process accidentally hit two of the troopers, resulting in two of the second-degree assault charges and misconduct charges.
Dunlap, who was assigned to the JFK Highway Barrack in Perryville at the time, pulled over on the shoulder of northbound I-95 near White Marsh around 11:30 p.m. Oct. 22, 2015, to see why a vehicle was stopped there. As Dunlap approached, the driver took off, according to court records.
The driver continued north on I-95 with his vehicle lights off, according to a Maryland State Police statement following their investigation. Troopers who had joined the pursuit used stop sticks to deflate the vehicle’s tires and it eventually stopped on I-95 south of Belcamp.
Another trooper and State Police corporal were the first to reach the driver and get him out of the car. While attempting to handcuff the driver, who was lying on the ground, the troopers reported Dunlap intervened and allegedly began jabbing the man repeatedly in the abdomen and side with a metal expandable baton, according to the State Police statement. He also allegedly struck and injured the hand of one of the troopers trying to handcuff the driver.
A State Police sergeant arriving at the scene forcibly pushed Dunlap away from the driver and ended the assault, according to the statement.
The case, brought by former Harford State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly, had been postponed several times in the last three years.
The case was reviewed when Al Peisinger took over the office this year and he decided it was not appropriate to charge Dunlap, Brown said.
Peisinger on Wednesday confirmed the charges were nolle prossed, but said they could be brought back if new evidence were to emerge.
“The state could not proceed with the evidence it had,” Peisinger said. “The charges were not sustainable.”
Brown said the charges were retaliation for a complaint Dunlap had filed after a banana was left on his windshield.
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After he was charged, Dunlap, who no longer works for Maryland State Police, was suspended without pay. Brown said he will pursue legal action to collect the two years of back pay he is owed.