Attorneys representing City Hall have abruptly backed out of a $150,000 settlement agreement with the family of a teen allegedly kidnapped by Baltimore police.
Baltimore attorney A. Dwight Pettit is accusing lawyers representing City Hall of playing an "unethical shell game" in their handling of a $100 million lawsuit filed against Baltimore police officers Milton Smith III, Tyrone Francis and Gregory Hellen. The officers were accused of picking up two West Baltimore teens in 2009 and driving one to East Baltimore and dropping the other off in a Howard County park.
One of the boys, 15, was found without shoes 11 miles from his home.
Pettit said attorneys representing the officers agreed to settle the suit for $150,000 in February. Both sides signed the agreement and the judge canceled a March trial date and closed the case.
But recently the city has refused to pay the settlement, leaving Pettit's clients without a scheduled trial and forcing them to restart the process of the suit, which was filed two years ago. He is asking a judge to force the city to honor the settlement.
"This is highly unusual and it is highly unethical," Pettit said.
City Solicitor George Nilson said in an email that the city would respond to Pettit's statements in court.
In a related criminal case, Baltimore City State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein prosecuted the officers himself in 2011, winning a split decision. A jury acquitted the officers of kidnapping, but convicted two of them -- Smith and Francis -- of misconduct, a misdemeanor. Baltimore Circuit Judge Timothy J. Doory criticized Hellen at the time for employing "cowboy tactics."