Ex-officer accused in misconduct found dead

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A former Baltimore police officer who was the subject of a high-profile misconduct case was found dead Saturday at Andrews Air Force Base while on duty with the Maryland Army National Guard.

Sgt. Brian L. Sewell, 34, was found dead in his room after failing to report for duty, said Maj. Charles Kohler, a National Guard spokesman. A medical officer from Malcolm Grow Medical Center on the base outside Washington pronounced Sewell dead at 9:27 p.m.

No cause was given yesterday. Kohler said Sewell's death is being investigated as an accident, adding, "To my knowledge nothing has been ruled out."

Sewell's family in Bel Air declined to comment, but a friend said Sewell had been doing well. His wife, Melissa, had their second child a few months ago, and Sewell felt he had beaten the misconduct allegations, said neighbor Michael DeMartino.

"He wasn't suicidal," said DeMartino, who last spoke to Sewell about two months ago. "If he was going to be suicidal, he would have been back in the days when he was fighting the Police Department."

In 2000, Sewell was charged with criminal misconduct after being accused of planting fake drugs on an 18-year-old man. The case was dropped in January 2001 after evidence was reported missing from a police internal affairs office in a burglary. In November 2001, however, Sewell was found guilty of departmental misconduct by an internal police disciplinary panel and was fired from the force.

Last year, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that Sewell deserved a new disciplinary trial because Mayor Martin O'Malley and then-Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said before the hearing that he was guilty and a disgrace to the department.

Sewell resigned early this year and collected back pay. Even so, DeMartino said the allegations bothered Sewell and his family. "You never get your good name back," DeMartino said.

Sewell, who lived in the Bel Air area, was a member of the Dundalk-based 175th Infantry Regiment. His unit was called to active duty in January to protect Andrews, home to Air Force One. Sewell also served in the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

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