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Lawsuit claims officers attacked minor

January 02, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court alleges assault and battery by two Hagerstown police officers against a minor.

The suit, which names the Hagerstown Police Department, City of Hagerstown and two officers as defendants, alleges that one of the officers held a gun to the minor's head.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith was not available for comment Friday.

The officers, who are named only as Officer John Doe #1 and Officer John Doe #2, responded to a call Jan. 1, 2008, for a reported fight in the area of High Street in Hagerstown

The minor child's mother had instructed him to go upstairs to their apartment while she went to look into the fight. By the time officers arrived in the area, those who had been involved in the fight had left the area.

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The officers cruised the neighborhood looking for those who had been involved in the fight when they saw the minor "obediently ascend the stairs to his home," according to the suit. The officers then knocked on the minor's door, even though he did not match the description of those who had been fighting.

After the officers knocked and announced "police," the minor opened the door and the officers "without justification of provocation, violently grabbed and twisted the Minor throwing him to the wall while Officer John Doe #1 put a gun forcefully to the Minor's head exclaiming 'don't move' and then announcing Minor was under arrest for a knife [fight]. Minor was then knocked to the ground and tightly handcuffed," the suit alleged.

One of the officers pointed a gun at the minor's uncle while the officers searched the apartment for a knife, according to the suit.

The minor's mother came up the stairs to the apartment and attempted to explain that her son had been with her and not involved in the fight, but the officers continued to hold the minor to the ground, according to the suit.

The officers released the minor after his mother arrived and they determined he was not a suspect, which shows there was not justification for the "unlawful detention or reckless announcement of arrest," according to the suit.

The minor had a pre-existing emotional and mental disability, which was greatly exacerbated as a result of the officers' actions, the suit alleged.

Count one of the suit alleges assault by the officers against the minor and asks for $15,000 against the officers. Count two alleges that holding a gun to the minor's head, kicking him to the ground and handcuffing him constituted battery and asks for another $15,000 against the officers.

The third count alleges the situation amounted to intentional infliction of emotional distress and asked for another $15,000 against the officers.

The last count of the suit demands another $15,000 in damages from the Hagerstown Police Department and City of Hagerstown, alleging that, among other things, the police department is liable for the negligence of its officers.

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