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Council president wants misconduct settlements to come out of police budget

As Baltimore officials on Wednesday authorized $280,000 in payments to settle three lawsuits alleging police misconduct, City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young called for future payments to come out of agency's budget -- not general city funds.

"I'm talking about bad cops," Young said. "Let it hit them in the pocket. If their budget is being affected, maybe they will change their behavior."

The Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, approved the settlements Wednesday.

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Rawlings-Blake told Young she would consider his proposal, but noted that most settlements date back years -- and she worried about saddling the current police budget with old complaints.

She said the number of lawsuits against the police "continues to trend down."

In 2010, there were 165 lawsuits filed against the city police, costing $4.4 million, according to city statistics. Last year, there were 107 such suits, costing $1.6 million.

Of the three cases settled Wednesday the largest — a payment of $150,000 —addresses claims brought by David Yim, who alleges Baltimore police assaulted him and violated his rights on April 10, 2012. An officer shot Yim in the abdomen while Yim held a large butcher's knife, before arresting him in the 1200 block of Oakhurst Place in the Winchester neighborhood, according to the city.

Yim, who was treated at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, sued, seeking $600,000 in damages.

The state's attorney's office cleared the officer, Fred Murray, of any wrongdoing in the shooting.

The city approved paying $70,000 to settle a suit brought by Duncan Smith alleging that he was falsely arrested on Oct. 10, 2011, outside the Taste Lounge in Curtis Bay. Two police officers — Jose Boscana and James Brooks — were attempting to clear the crowd at closing time and got into an altercation with Smith. Smith said he was "struck in the head" with a baton repeatedly for "no reason," according to city documents. The officers said Smith struck an officer while he was attempting to make an arrest.

Smith was treated at Harbor Hospital and sued for $900,000.

The third settlement — a payment of $60,000 — involved Kevin Gray's allegations of battery and false arrest by four officers on Nov. 13, 2012. Gray was driving in the 4500 block of Harford Road in Lauraville when police stopped him for having a covered license plate, the city said. Officers searched the car for drugs, and conducted an "invasive search" of Gray's body, but found nothing. He was then released, officials said.

Gray sued for $1.4 million.

In such settlements, neither the city nor the officers acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Baltimore has paid out more than $12 million since 2010 in court judgment and settlements related to lawsuits alleging wrongdoing by police.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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