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Baltimore spending panel to consider $135K in police brutality settlements

Two settlements totaling $135,000 of lawsuits alleging battery and false arrest by the Baltimore Police Department are scheduled to be considered by the city’s spending panel Wednesday.

In one case, Kianga Mwamba was driving on Harford Road on March 30, 2014 when she stopped to record police activity, according to a memorandum prepared for the Board of Estimates. An officer ordered Mwamba to pull over and park to avoid blocking traffic, and an altercation occurred during which an officer used a stun gun to subdue and arrest Mwamba.

Mwamba claims officers struck her while she was seated in her car before using a stun gun on her, according to a complaint filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court. Mwamba also claims she was denied use of her inhaler while in a holding cell at the police station.

According to a motion for summary judgment filed by the officers, Mwamba refused several lawful orders then assaulted an officer with her car.

“Probable cause to arrest is a bar to the majority of Plaintiff’s claims,” the motion states.

The incident was captured on Mwamba’s cell phone and uploaded to cloud-based storage, according to the complaint, and charges filed against her were later dropped after prosecutors were shown the video, which had been deleted from Mwama’s phone.

Mwamba, represented by Towson and Baltimore solo practitioners J. Shawn Alcarese and Joshua L. Insley, respectively, filed suit in December 2014 seeking $1 million each in compensatory and punitive damages for assault, battery and illegal arrest, among other counts.

The settlement is for $60,000. The settlement order was granted Dec. 30, five days before the trial was scheduled to start, according to online court records.

The officers are represented by Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr., Dennis M. Robinson Jr. and Patrick D. McKevitt of Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP in Baltimore.

The case is Kianga Mwamba v. Baltimore City Police et al., 24C14007030.

$75,000 settlement

In the second case, New Jersey resident Leonard Key alleged he was struck by an unmarked police vehicle, tackled and tased during an incident on April 5, 2014, according to the complaint filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court six months later.

The settlement memorandum states an officer pointed out Key, who the officer believed was carrying drugs, to other officers. Key ran into the street and collided with the police vehicle and continued running before being caught. A stun gun was used against him.

Key was transported to the hospital and treated for injuries to his ankle before being taken to Central Booking, according to the memorandum.

Possession charges filed against Key were later dismissed, according to the complaint.

Key filed suit for assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment and violations of the Maryland Declaration of Rights against three officers, seeking an unspecified amount of damages and claiming he required physical therapy and follow-up medical treatment for his ankle.

The settlement is for $75,000. A settlement order was entered Jan. 4, and a trial had been scheduled for next month.

Key is represented by Dominic R. Iamele of Iamele & Iamele LLP in Baltimore. The officers are represented by Peter W. Sheehan Jr. of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP in Baltimore.

The case is Leonard Key v. Sgt. Fontaine W. Smallwood, 24C14005951.