Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mother Sues Baltimore City and Police Officer for $40-million

Cavalier and reckless police officers pose a serious threat to the safety of citizens. Simply because a person possesses a badge and a gun does not give that person the right to place citizens in danger for no reason. When a police officer is reckless the consequences can be disastrous. Last year a twenty-seven year old motorcyclist was killed during a high-speed police chase. Wednesday the mother of the motorcyclist filed a $40-million lawsuit against Baltimore City and the officer who struck her son. The lawsuit alleges that the police officer ignored orders and lied about how the crash occurred. I live in Baltimore City and appreciate the police officers and understand that their job is both indispensable and dangerous. With that being said I cannot overlook what I have witnessed with my own eyes. Some police officers think they are above the law, impervious to the rules and regulations that all of us must follow. Of course police officers are placed in situations where they must engage in activities that are otherwise prohibited. When confronted with extraordinary circumstances police officers still must follow specific codes of conduct. Further, when a police officer is not engaged in some type of pursuit or off duty placing others in danger is unacceptable.

In this case, Baltimore Officer Timothy Everett Beall was "told to end the chase" and that he acknowledged that command turning "off his lights and siren". Despite this command the officer continued to follow the motorcyclist onto an interstate 695 exit ramp. He proceeded to ram into the back of the motorcycle while distracted by his telephone and radio communications. Beall told investigators that the motorcyclist "crashed out in front of him" and that the police cruiser never collided with the bike. Maryland State Police Sgt. John McGee concluded that the officer's account of the collision could not have occurred in that manner because it would defy the laws of physics. Now the deceased mother hired William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr. and filed, among others, a wrongful death claim asserting that the death of her son was not caused by any reckless conduct on his part but was caused solely by the negligent actions of the officer.

On a less tragic and more personal note, I have observed a few Baltimore City and Maryland State Police Officers acting as if they are above the law. While traveling down Eastern Avenue, a car stopped in front of me and began making a u-turn across a double yellow line. I honked my horn (this was apparently an egregious act on my part as if horns were not meant to be used like a sofa with a plastic cover, actually I think if a horn is used correctly it can contribute to highway safety but that is a topic for another day). The driver proceeded to stop his car sideways in the middle of Eastern Avenue, blocking traffic, and pointed to a police shirt he had hanging in the back seat. He looked at me as if to say, "see this buddy...I do what I want". That was not the reaction he got from me. He then got out of his car, pulled out his badge and showed it to me. I told him I didn't care and that what he did was illegal. He then proceeded to tell me that technically what he did was legal because there was a break in the line. All I can tell you is that if an everyday citizen did what he did that person would be pulled over and given a ticket. This next anecdote is trivial but I am on a role; I went to the gym yesterday and it was packed. As I was looking for a parking spot I noticed a State Trooper cruiser parked in a spot where it clearly said "Do Not Park". In the words of CC, Key, TJ, Coach, and Boomer, Come On Man!

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