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$70,000 awarded in police assault case


A Baltimore Circuit Court jury has awarded $70,000 to an East Baltimore man who said he was assaulted by two city police officers who mistakenly came to his home while searching for a suspect who lived nearby.

The jury awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages to Eddie J. Duncan, 45. The panel found that Officers Michael Johnson and Vincent McCoy assaulted the man, violated his constitutional rights and falsely imprisoned him on Aug. 1, 1992.

The jury's verdict came late Friday before Visiting Judge Donald G. Gilmore.

Mr. Duncan filed the lawsuit on May 6, 1993, claiming the officers, acting on an arrest warrant, arrived at his home at 1227 E. Oliver St. to look for a man named Terry Williams, whose address was 1727 E. Oliver St.

He said the owner of the home identified him as Eddie Duncan and told police there was no Terry Williams at 1227 E. Oliver. Mr. Duncan said the exchange occurred outside, and when he went into the house and tried to shut the door, Officer Johnson reached inside and grabbed his shirt.

Mr. Duncan said the officer tackled him and Officer McCoy joined the scrap, which lasted several minutes. During that time, he said, he was beaten on the head with a hard object that resembled a blackjack.

He said the officers handcuffed him and placed him in leg irons, charging him with assaulting Officer Johnson. He said he was wrongly jailed for 19 hours.

The officers said Mr. Duncan initiated the physical contact by pushing Officer Johnson from the doorway, and that Officer McCoy came to his partner's aid while a fight was under way.

Robert C. Verderaime, the attorney for the officers, called the verdict excessive. He said hospital records did not support Mr. Duncan's claims of severe injuries. He said he will ask Judge Gilmore to reduce the judgment.

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