Living and working in the Baltimore area, it isn’t a rare sight to see Baltimore city and county police officers conducting all manner of duties from criminal arrests and emergency services to traffic control and accident scene investigation. What citizens don’t always see are the occasional missteps taken by patrolmen and other law enforcement personnel from time to time. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, I and my legal staff have the utmost respect for the difficult job that police officers do every day in this state and across the nation.
But just as we commend the efforts of the majority of this country’s law enforcement community, we also have concern for the private individuals who occasionally suffer from improper police procedures or ignorance of the civil rights of some individuals who come in contact with those few, less-than-professional officers from time to time.
We’re reminded of this occasionally when we run across stories of abuse of power by some officers and other police officials. Similarly, some innocent citizens are actually injured or killed as a result of a patrolman’s actions during the performance of his or her duty. Again, the job of law enforcement is in no way an easy one; however, as tax payers and citizens we all expect excellence from our police force and certainly hold the entire organization to a higher standard than the rest of society.
While we are keenly aware of the news stories covering automobile and commercial trucking collisions around the state, as well as in the District of Columbia, we happened upon an article explaining the large sum of money that Baltimore officials have had to pay out for various lawsuits lodged against the city in the past several months. Some of these suits had to do with procedural issues involving improper search and other violations of individuals’ civil rights.
In a nutshell, police-related settlements totaled more than a quarter of a million dollars since in recent months. But that’s a piece of the pie; consider the fact that the City of Baltimore paid out more than $10 million in police-related legal settlements from the summer of 2007 through the middle of 2010. Apparently, the cost of police department errors and other misconduct continues to haunt the city.
From our standpoint, as car and motorcycle accident lawyers, we note that one civil suit against the city involved an injury-related crash that sent a motorcycle rider to the hospital with extensive injuries. That accident occurred along a stretch of Beaufort Avenue in late August last year during an unrelated police chase involving an alleged drug suspect.
Based on news reports, the officer in charge was pursuing a “possible CDS violator” through a city alley on the morning of August 31 during the morning hours. According to court records, as the officer turned his vehicle onto Beaufort he apparently failed to observe (and yield to) cross traffic. In doing so, the policeman’s cruiser hit a passing motorcyclist. The victim reportedly suffered permanent injury plus numerous medical expenses and lost wages. For that incident, the City settled for a sum of $115,000.
This is just one of the numerous incidents that Baltimore citizens end up paying for through their taxes. According to news articles, the city spent typically settles out of court, due to the relatively high cost of defending itself in jury trails.
More police settlements to cost Baltimore taxpayers $270,000, BaltimoreBrew.com, April 17, 2012