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City to pay $30K to settle unlawful stop suit

Baltimore’s spending panel has approved a $30,000 settlement with a city man who alleged he was unlawfully stopped in his car and then arrested without cause nearly six years ago.

Kenyon Williams’ lawsuit against Officer Owen M. Ray Jr. was settled during the first day of trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court in November; however, the amount was withheld pending review by the Board of Estimates, which voted on the matter Wednesday.

Williams sought $3.6 million in compensatory damages and $18 million in punitive damages, according to the Board of Estimates’ agenda.

Williams alleged he was driving home in May 2009, with his son asleep in the passenger seat, when he was stopped by an unmarked police car at a stop light on Pulaski Street.

Officer Owen M. Ray Jr. approached Williams’ car from the driver’s side and then walked around to the passenger side, according to court documents. The officer opened the passenger door, grabbed Williams’ son’s arms and began pulling up the son’s shirt to search his body, according to the lawsuit, filed in February 2012. When Williams asked for an explanation, Ray said he was the police and told Williams to pull over, according to the lawsuit. Instead, Williams drove to a West Baltimore Street barbershop owned by his cousin, according to the lawsuit.

There, Williams got out of the car at the request of officers and was “subsequently slammed onto the hood of the car and handcuffed,” according to the lawsuit. He was taken to jail but alleges he was released without charges.

Ray’s lawyers said the officer was investigating a report of an armed person in the area, according to court filings. Ray told Williams he was looking for a gun when he searched Williams’ son, and Williams drove off when Ray asked him to pull over, according to the defense’s court filings.

Williams was arrested by officers other than Ray and ultimately charged with failure to obey an officer’s order and disorderly conduct for using profanity, charges that were ultimately dropped, according to court filings.

Williams was represented by James L. Rhodes, a Baltimore solo practitioner. Ray was represented by Michael L. Marshall and Chaz R. Ball of Schlachman of Belsky & Weiner P.A. in Baltimore.

The case is Kenyon Williams v. Officer Owen M. Ray Jr., 24C12001197, Baltimore City Circuit Court.