Suit brought against city, police officers

Woman alleges she was abused during arrest

Woman alleges she was abused during arrest

May 20, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown woman who alleges Hagerstown police officers threw her to the ground and kicked her in the stomach a year ago has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the city, Police Chief Arthur Smith, four city police officers, Washington County and a medical corporation.

Marlene Flippen alleges in the suit filed Monday in Washington County Circuit Court, that officers grabbed her and slammed her against the sidewalk while arresting her outside a West Franklin Street bar in May 2008.

Flippen had been barred from the business that evening, and police asked her for identification so the owner of Friendly's Pub could ban her in the future.

"Ms. Flippen was feeling defensive and tried to explain her position" to the four officers, according to the suit.

Hagerstown Police officers Richard Cook, Travis Crouse, Joseph Miller and Sgt. David Long are named in the suit, which was filed by Richard C.B. Woods of Baltimore.


The suit alleges Long yelled at Flippen and knocked her off balance by shoving his chest into her while yelling obscenities, then slammed her to the sidewalk.

Flippen was charged with disorderly conduct, second-degree assault and resisting arrest in the incident.

In charging documents filed May 18, 2008, Miller alleged that Flippen was on the porch of Friendly's Pub yelling profanities when police arrived. The officers approached Flippen to ask for her identification when she continued to yell profanities, forcefully bumped into Long and pulled away from officers when they tried to arrest her, the documents allege.

Cook's arm was injured while the officers were making the arrest and he was treated at Washington County Hospital, court documents contend.

When they arrived at the booking area, Flippen jumped out of the police patrol car and said, "Now look (expletive) I got the cuffs off," Miller wrote in charging documents.

Court records show that Flippen pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, and the other charges were dropped. She was granted probation before judgment, which means if she successfully served a year of probation, the conviction would not appear on her record.

In the suit, Flippen said she did slip out of handcuffs because they were causing extreme pain due to a pre-existing wrist injury.

She alleges in the suit that when the officers discovered she no longer was wearing the handcuffs, they threw her to the ground, and Crouse and Miller kicked her repeatedly in the stomach and head, although she begged them to stop. They did not stop kicking, and as they kicked her in her head, lower back and kidneys, she lost control of her bladder and urinated on herself, according to allegations in the suit.

Crouse and Miller laughed at her when she urinated, the suit contends.

Flippen in the suit asks for a total of $31.5 million, with all but $500,000 of that being sought from the officers, the City of Hagerstown and Smith.

The suit alleges negligence by correctional and PrimeCare employees while she was being held at the Washington County Detention Center and asks for $500,000 from the county and PrimeCare.

Flippen repeatedly requested medical attention but was, "forced to endure hours and hours of unrelenting fear and severe pain in her head, neck, arms, back, face and body without treatment or medicine to relieve her pain and suffering," the suit alleges.

Flippen asks for money from the officers and city for alleged violations of her state constitutional rights, and for allegations of assault, battery, negligence, gross negligence and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

She asks for $2 million from Smith and the City of Hagerstown for allegations of negligent supervision and training, saying the officers were acting under Smith's direction and control. Flippen also asks for further relief, including revised police policies and training for officers of the Hagerstown Police Department.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Smith and Washington County Attorney John Martirano had not been served with the suit.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Tuesday he also hadn't been served with the suit.

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