A Baltimore city jury has awarded $850,000 in a wrongful-death case that alleged police failed to protect a woman who was fatally shot by her husband, a Baltimore city police officer.
Two Baltimore police officers were dispatched to the home of Officer James Walton Smith and his fiancee, Kendra Diggs, in the 1100 block of N. Parrish St. on May 7, 2013, after a neighbor reported a domestic disturbance.
When the officers arrived, police said, they heard Diggs inside calling for help. After no one responded to their knocks, the officers kicked in the door and brought Diggs outside.
Diggs was standing on the sidewalk with an officer when police say Smith fired a shot from his second-floor window that struck her in the head.
The lawsuit, brought by Diggs' two children, alleged that the officers "assumed a special relationship to protect her" and were negligent.
"They took her out front, directly in the line of fire when they knew Officer Smith was armed," attorney A. Dwight Pettit said in an interview.
The suit also said the officers took cover but made no attempt to shield or rescue Diggs before a second, fatal shot was fired.
Smith barricaded himself inside the home for hours. After being arrested, he later took his own life in jail.
The officers named as defendants in the case that went to trial were Officers Antoine Lewis and Andrew Groman. Their attorney did not return a message seeking comment, nor did the acting city solicitor, David Ralph.
Groman was injured when he was shot by a suspect during a traffic stop a year later.
Pettit said the verdict was "progressive, in terms of recognizing that the police do have a responsibility, a special relationship, when they assume to protect someone. It's in the general orders, and they failed to do so."