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Man pepper-sprayed during curfew acquitted of disorderly charge by jury

Larry Lomax, who was pepper-sprayed after confronting Baltimore Police during an April protest, was acquitted by a jury of a disorderly conduct charge Friday evening, his attorney confirmed.

Lomax, 24, had pleaded guilty to the charge in July in District Court, but appealed the case to Circuit Court.

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"Mr. Lomax made the decision to continue to pursue the appeal, even though he faced the possibility of additional jail time, because he felt strongly about this case and remains concerned about police brutality in Baltimore," said his attorney, deputy public defender Natalie Finegar.

Prosecutors and police said that in early May, Lomax walked toward an officer with his fists "balled up tight in an aggressive manner yelling obscenities at the officers and daring them to arrest him."

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Video at the scene captured that encounter, showing him wearing a shirt that said, "F--- the police" and yelling , "Arrest me. I dare you." Police are seen unloading pepper spray into Lomax's face and pulling him down from behind by his hair. Officers then dragged Lomax from the street to the sidewalk, where he was given water for his face.

Police said in charging documents that Lomax's behavior "incited the crowd causing multiple other arrests."

Finegar said she told jurors that Lomax's actions were "only directed toward one officer." The crowd getting upset was a result of the police action toward Lomax, she argued.

"This was not about whether you agree with what Mr. Lomax was demonstrating, or whether you agree with how Mr. Lomax went around demonstrating," Finegar said in an interview. "This really is a clear-cut matter as to whether he was attempting to get the crowd riled up."

Lomax, who is homeless and suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident, was initially charged with rioting, second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and a curfew violation, and was jailed for 26 days after being unable to post bail.

Court records show he has since been arrested for fourth-degree burglary and malicious destruction of property in Howard County. Those charges are pending and his attorney for that case could not be reached.

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