Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Lawsuit filed against city officer in fatal shooting

Attorney for victim’s family says he posed no threat

The family of a Reservoir Hill man fatally shot by a Baltimore city police officer in March 2012 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

George B. Wells III was shot six times, including three times in the back, according to the lawsuit, filed last week in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

The lawsuit claims Officer Jethro Estavien shot Wells from behind the driver’s side of Estavien’s marked police car while Wells was 20 feet away in the 2400 block of Callow Avenue.

Anton L. Iamele, a lawyer for Wells’ family, said based on the “evidentiary material,” including a heavily redacted homicide investigation of the shooting and diagram of the incident, Wells was not facing Estavien when the shots were fired.

In addition to being shot in the back, bullets hit Wells’ elbow and rear end and grazed his chest, according to the lawsuit.

“The pattern of wounds suggests he was facing away from the car,” said Iamele, of Iamele & Iamele LLP in Baltimore, adding the sequence of shots was unknown.

Emergency responders found Wells lying in the middle of the street “with crime scene tape and evidence markers in the street proximate to the shell casings,” according to the lawsuit. Wells was taken to Shock Trauma, where he died of his injuries less than an hour after the shooting, according to the lawsuit.

Police said at the time of the incident that Wells was holding a knife. Iamele said Wells was “purported” to be carrying a knife or box-cutter and that it was found seven or eight feet behind his body.

“I’m not sure he was brandishing it,” Iamele said. “It doesn’t make sense spatially.”

The lawsuit is more blunt in denying the the weapon allegation.

“At no time during the events described did [Wells] pose a real or apparent threat to Defendant Estavien or any person at or near the scene of the happening,” the lawsuit states. “The force directed against [Wells] was unnecessary, excessive and unreasonable.”

Estavien is no longer with the Baltimore Police Department, according to Det. Ruganzu Howard, a police spokesman.

Howard declined to comment on the allegations made in the lawsuit, citing the department’s policy of not discussing pending litigation.

Police were looking for Wells after being called to his home in the 2500 block of Brookfield Avenue in response to a reported domestic disturbance, the lawsuit states.

Iamele said either Martinique Flowers, Wells’ girlfriend, or the couple’s son called police. Flowers told police the couple had an argument but she “did not display any visible injuries and was not in need of medical attention,” according to the lawsuit.

Wells left the house between the time of the call to police and officers arriving, according to Iamele. Flowers provided a description of Wells to police, which was then broadcast to all officers, according to the lawsuit.

Wells’ family also is represented by Domenic R. Iamele of Iamele & Iamele and Kim Parker, a Baltimore solo practitioner.

The case is Litta Wells, et al., v. Jethro Estavien, 24C14006556.