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Baltimore settles one of two lawsuits alleging detective's misconduct

While Baltimore police Detective Ramon Lugo continues to fight a lawsuit claiming he was responsible for a man being wrongfully jailed for two years, city leaders have paid $67,500 to settle a separate lawsuit alleging that he beat a teenager in 2011.

Without discussion last week, the Board of Estimates approved the payment to Michael Cudnik Jr. He accused Lugo and six other officers of beating him when they entered an apartment near Morrell Park in 2011. They had a search warrant for the boy's father, who lived in a different apartment, the lawsuit says.

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The officers handcuffed Cudnik, who is now an adult, and beat and kicked him, according to the lawsuit. Cudnik was taken to St. Agnes Hospital before being moved to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center with a ruptured spleen and other injuries, the lawsuit says.

Weeks after Cudnik's attorney notified the city that a lawsuit would be filed, officers charged Cudnik with hindering an investigation and failing to obey orders, according to the lawsuit. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's administration told the spending panel that Cudnik was not the intended target of the search, and he later explained that he thought he was being robbed when officers burst through the door. Cudnik suffered injuries to his face, chin, ear, neck, back and spleen, the memo said.

City lawyers initially said in court filings that officers made a lawful entry into the property. The city settled the case "because of conflicting factual issues and objective injuries suffered by [Cudnik] and given the uncertainties and unpredictability of jury verdicts."

Lugo's other legal battle centers on accusations that he made misstatements when applying for a search warrant in 2012.

After defense lawyers challenged the warrant, which was central to a drug case, a federal judge questioned Lugo's truthfulness in March 2014.

The prosecution collapsed when questions were raised in court about inconsistencies in Lugo's search warrant application. After the detective acknowledged those inconsistencies, the judge expressed concern about "the reckless disregard for the truth."

The next day, 20 drug and gun crimes against Devin Leroy Jones were dismissed, and he was freed after spending two years behind bars awaiting trial. Federal prosecutors acknowledged that "a lot of mistakes" were made in the drug case but said they were confident Lugo did not knowingly provide false information.

Jones is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 in that lawsuit.

Lugo has been a city officer since June 2001. The Baltimore Police Department does not comment on pending litigation.

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