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Inmate sues city, policemen for $16 million

August 16, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

A 35-year-old Hagerstown man serving five years in prison for resisting arrest has filed a $16 million federal lawsuit against the City of Hagerstown and two police officers who arrested him, claiming he was beaten and denied medical care.

Randall Mark Long, now an inmate at the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown, filed the lawsuit April 30 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, a clerk confirmed Wednesday.

In the suit, Long names the City of Hagerstown and Hagerstown City Police Officers Steven Cromer and Joseph Stauffer.

Hagerstown City Clerk Gann Breichner said she has no record of being officially served with the lawsuit. She did acknowledge she received a copy of the lawsuit in the mail from Long this week.

Hagerstown Police Chief Dale Jones said while the police department has no official comment because the matter is in litigation, he did want to express his opinion as chief.

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"There was no wrongdoing by the officers and the claim is being denied by the city at this time for any payment on it," Jones said.

Neither officer could be reached for comment.

According to court records, Long was at the Farmers and Merchants Bank at 201 S. Cleveland Ave. on May 1, 1997, when Cromer responded to a report of a wanted man in the building.

But Long said the reason he fled was because he feared Cromer, the lawsuit said.

Court records said there was a struggle between Long and Cromer in the bank with both men going to the floor and Long getting away and out the door.

The lawsuit said that Long stopped fleeing near Municipal Stadium, laid face down on the sidewalk and was handcuffed by Stauffer.

When Cromer arrived, according to the lawsuit, Cromer drove his knee into Long's head and right ear.

Shouting obscenities, Cromer repeatedly banged Long's head on the pavement, the suit said, adding that Cromer kicked him in the right shoulder, hoisted him up by the handcuffs and slammed him face down on the police cruiser.

When Long asked Stauffer to take him to the hospital, Stauffer used obscenities, told him to shut up and took him to police headquarters, the suit said.

After Detective George Brandt interviewed Long that day, Long was taken to Washington County Hospital's emergency room, the suit said.

At the trial in March, Long pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and was sentenced to five years in prison. Two five-year consecutive sentences for uttering bad checks were suspended by Judge John H. McDowell.

A charge that Long assaulted Cromer in the bank that day was dropped in exchange for the guilty pleas, court records said.

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