Several of Baltimore's Hispanic leaders demanded an apology yesterday from the city Sheriff's Department for the alleged beating of a member of their community who was mistaken for a bank robber and shot with stun guns.
Rolando Sanchez, a Salvadoran construction worker who speaks little English, claims he was taking a lunch break at Lexington Market on Sept. 18 when at least 10 deputies attacked and humiliated him, then left him injured without calling an ambulance.
"This did not just happen to Rolando, it happened to the community," Hispanic activist Angelo Solera said at a rally in the rain in front of Courthouse East. "There is a brotherhood."
Five sheriff's deputies have been suspended with pay from their regular duties, pending an internal investigation by the Sheriff's Department.
Rally participants circulated a list of requests, including that the Sheriff's Department finish the investigation quickly and pursue criminal charges against the deputies. They also asked that the department pay for Sanchez's medical costs and that it recruit more Hispanic deputies.
Several members of the Hispanic community stood at the rally holding signs reading: "This beating could have happened to you" and "Justice for Rolando."
Sanchez attended the rally, wearing a neck brace. He did not speak.
Maj. Toby Goodwin, chief of operations for the sheriff's office, said he could not comment on the investigation. But he said he was open to speaking to members in the Hispanic community about diversity training for deputies.
The department has at least four Hispanic deputies, and actively recruits in the Hispanic community, Goodwin said.
The alleged assault occurred after a sheriff's deputy, who had been cashing a check in an Allfirst Bank branch on St. Paul Street, was alerted to a robbery in the bank.
The deputy ran after the robber and, after calling for backup on her radio, gave chase toward Lexington Market.
At least five deputies converged in the market and encountered Sanchez, according to an account by the sheriff's office. Details are sketchy as to what happened next.
A spokeswoman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office said city prosecutors would consider bringing charges if the sheriff's internal investigation indicates there was wrongdoing.
Sanchez's lawyer, J. Stephen Simms, said he would seek monetary compensation, but is hoping to keep the situation out of the courts.