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Excessive force lawsuit against police, chief dismissed

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department and Commissioner Anthony W. Batts brought by a woman who alleged she was arrested and assaulted after filming the officers beating and arresting someone else.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz’s decision Wednesday comes six weeks after a federal jury found in favor of two individual officers Smith had sued stemming from the March 2012 incident.

Makia Smith earlier this month filed an appeal of the jury verdict to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to online court records.

Smith claimed she was stopped in traffic on Harford Road when she used the camera on her phone to film police beating a young man, according to her complaint, filed in May 2013. An officer saw Smith recording the incident, ran to her car and destroyed her phone, according to the complaint. The officer then pulled Smith out of her car and he and three other officers began beating her up, according to the complaint.

Smith was charged with second-degree assault and resisting arrest, among other charges, all of which were ultimately dropped. Her civil lawsuit sought $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Lawyers for the officers, in court filings, claimed police had probable cause to arrest Smith because she “abruptly stopped in the middle of Harford Road, blocked the flow of traffic and exited her vehicle while it remained in the road.” Smith then refused orders from police to move her car to allow traffic to pass and produce her driver’s license, according to the defense.

The case is Smith v. Baltimore Police Department, et al., 1:13-cv-01352-MJG.