Man files assault suit vs. Howard police; He says confrontation came during concert


A Howard County man alleges in a lawsuit against the county Police Department that two officers assaulted him in the parking lot of Merriweather Post Pavilion during a concert last year.

Peter Farragut, the son of former Howard County Councilman Paul R. Farragut, says the officers approached him from behind in the Merriweather parking lot during a concert by the band Phish on Aug. 8, 1998. The officers slammed his face on the hood of a parked car, the suit says.

After handcuffing Farragut, one officer sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, according to the suit. Several minutes later, the officers removed the handcuffs and walked away, it says.

"Several of the people who had watched the entire incident now came to the aid of Farragut and tried to comfort him and wash away the burning spray from his eyes, face and body," the suit says.

Farragut's attorney, David Harvis, said police acted inappropriately. "The case is real," Harvis said. "The police did something wrong."

A police official declined to comment because the matter is being litigated.

"Until we have an opportunity to review the suit, we won't be making any comment," said Lt. Gary Gardner.

Harvis said several witnesses will support his client's version of what happened.

Officers filed reports that described the incident but did not identify Farragut by name, Harvis said.

Farragut, in his early 20s and most recently of Ellicott City, was not charged with any crime, Harvis said.

The lawsuit identifies one of the officers as Sgt. John McKissick.

The suit identifies the other officer as Mark A. Proviano, but police records show his first name is Michael.

Neither Farragut nor his father, who retired from the council in 1994, could be reached to comment. The suit was filed in Howard Circuit Court last week.

Farragut's allegation is the second in two months levied against police or security personnel at Merriweather Post Pavilion during the 1998 Phish concert.

Last month, a Virginia man filed a lawsuit against security guards at Merriweather alleging they beat and kicked him when he trespassed on the property that day.

In his suit, Nathan Crouch of Arlington says several security guards accosted him and banged his chin on the pavement, causing eight of his teeth to break or crack.

The general manager of Merriweather, Jean Parker, has said the incident will be investigated.

Pub Date: 9/13/99

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