Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

2 Baltimore police officers sued for Taser use

A 66-year-old Baltimore man filed suit Monday against two Baltimore police officers, saying one of them used a Taser twice without cause after responding to a domestic dispute in June at his home on Elmora Avenue.

According to the complaint, which was filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court and seeks more than $7.5 million, plaintiff Leon Coley was hospitalized after Officer Paul Markowski used his Taser on Coley.

“The guy has some serious medical issues,” Coley’s attorney, solo practitioner Paul M. Polansky, said. “Heart [condition], diabetes, that kind of thing.”

The Baltimore Police Department does not comment on pending litigation, but the department’s policies on use of “Electronic Shock Devices” are contained in General Order G-19, which Det. Kevin Brown emailed to The Daily Record.

According to the order, effective May 21, 2007, ESDs are “designed to incapacitate actively resisting subjects, aggressive non-compliant subjects and/or violent or potentially violent subjects.”

Polansky said none of those descriptions fit his client.

“He didn’t fight with anybody; he did not resist,” Polansky said. “At [nearly] 67 years old, he’s not capable of resisting these two police officers.”

General Order G-19 states that Tasers are at the same level as pepper spray on the “use of force continuum,” and each use of a Taser by a member of the department, whether intentional or not, is investigated thoroughly.

According to the lawsuit, Coley’s wife of 28 years, Carrie Coley, called police on the day in question “for no other reason than the Plaintiff and she had a verbal argument.” It states that Leon Coley was sitting on his sofa when Markowski and an unidentified female officer entered his home. When they ordered him off the sofa, he “apparently did not move quickly enough.”

At that point Markowski used his Taser, the suit states, causing Coley to “fall to the ground and spasm.” Markowski then “placed his knee on Coley’s neck, dragged him out the door, shackled Mr. Coley and tasered him again.”

Polansky said Coley’s wife was screaming for the police to stop and telling them about her husband’s heart problems.

Because of his heart condition, Coley “became very ill” and was transported to Union Memorial Hospital, according to the suit, which claims $3,177.82 in medical bills.

Polansky said the two officers overreacted to a situation in which no one was in danger.

“When you show up in this situation and there’s nobody hurt, no evidence of violence and the guy’s sitting in his chair in his own home, you don’t Tase him,” Polansky said.

Coley was not charged in the incident, and according to online court records, his criminal history appears to consist of a stetted 2008 charge of driving on a revoked license.

The complaint includes one count each of assault and battery, false arrest, negligence, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and the violation of Coley’s rights under the state constitution. It requests $250,000 in compensatory damages on each count and $1 million in punitive damages on each count.

Polansky said the female officer is included in the suit because she did not intervene to stop the use of the Taser on Coley.