Essex mechanic sues county, police, saying 3 officers severely beat him


An Essex car mechanic has filed a $14.5 million lawsuit against Baltimore County and three police officers, alleging that the officers beat him so severely last year that he was hospitalized for six days.

David C. Lanham of the 500 block of Dorsey Ave. alleges that Officers Shawn Needham, Sean Salisbury and Daniel Budlor arrived at his home July 9, 1999, after they were called by his girlfriend's daughter, Tiffany Irwin, and Irwin's boyfriend, Henry Smith.

Irwin and Smith told officers that Lanham had assaulted Irwin, according to the suit filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Lanham, who was asleep at the time, was awakened by the officers and told to sit in a dining room chair. Lanham was asked to identify himself and when he gave Salisbury his name, told the officer to spell it right and used profanity.

Salisbury grabbed Lanham by the hair, threw him on the floor and handcuffed him, according to the suit. Lanham was then "physically dragged down the front steps of his house" by Budlor and Needham, the suit alleges.

Lanham was placed face-down on the ground, pepper-sprayed in the face, had his feet bound and was thrown in the back of a police car, where he was pepper-sprayed a second time, according to the suit.

When Lanham kicked at the windows of the police car "to obtain some relief from the effects of the pepper spray," Budlor and Needham dragged him out of the car and threw him on the ground, the suit alleges. One of the officers kicked him in the ribs while the other stood on his legs, according to the suit.

County lawyers and police officials declined to comment on the suit yesterday.

Lanham was transported to the Essex precinct, where he initially refused medical attention, the suit alleges.

Lanham's lawyers, Charles E. Brooks and Malcolm Spicer Jr., said that paramedics were eventually called and Lanham was taken to Franklin Square Hospital Center, where he was admitted for six days and treated for a lacerated spleen and three broken ribs.

Court records show that Lanham was found guilty Aug. 4, 1999, of resisting arrest and second-degree assault. He was given an 18-month suspended sentence and one year of supervised probation by District Judge Robert Dugan.

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