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County officer filed for overtime pay for night of teen's death

When Baltimore County police officer James D. Laboard was acquitted last month in the death of 17-year-old Christopher Brown, he was entitled to back pay he lost after his indictment.

The officer also requested and received overtime for the June 2012 night he confronted Brown, who was with a group of teens who had thrown rocks at the officer's door. When Laboard caught up to Brown, the two fought and the teen died of asphyxiation.

The request supports "the stipulation that he was on duty," said Laboard's attorney, Ezra S. Gollogly. The argument that Laboard was acting within his official powers was a key element of his successful defense.

Though Laboard was off duty when the rock hit his door, police are expected to intervene when they see a crime in progress.

Prosecutors failed to convince a jury that Laboard went beyond his police training and exerted excessive force. His lawyers argued that he acted appropriately when he used a neck restraint to attempt to subdue the teen. Jurors found the officer not guilty of both voluntary and involuntary manslaughter

Laboard's overtime request was discussed in internal Police Department messages that were part of the investigative file in Brown's case, obtained by The Baltimore Sun under a public records request.

"Laboard was acting in the capacity of a police officer, and therefore was on duty," wrote Lt. Gregory Mead in a message to the Woodlawn Precinct commander. The message continues, "The [Fraternal Order of Police] in turn told Officer Laboard to put in a one hour overtime slip for his time during the incident."

The Baltimore County police union said such requests are routine and written into officers' contract.

"It's very common that management will direct you to act," said Cole B. Weston, president of Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4. "They should be compensated."

The teen's mother, Chris Brown, said "that shouldn't have been the case at all."

Laboard's annual salary is $68,845. A county police spokeswoman said Laboard's back pay is still being processed. He remains suspended pending an internal review of the case.

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