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Ocean City to settle excessive force lawsuit for $275K

(iStock/aluxum)

(iStock/aluxum)

Ocean City has agreed to pay $275,000 to a Silver Spring man who alleged city police officers used excessive force after stopping him illegally and then failed to secure him with a seat belt in a transport van.

A notice of voluntary dismissal and general release were filed in John Henry’s case on Tuesday, according to online court records.

An intoxicated Henry was passed out off Edgewater Avenue on Aug. 4, 2013, when an officer came upon him and asked him to leave the area, according to the complaint, filed last year in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The officer then followed Henry and charged him with multiple offenses.

“[T]here is a clear pattern of practice by the Ocean City Police Department of treating young or intoxicated individuals with a great deal of unwarranted and inappropriate force when they are not acting in a violent or criminal manner,” according to the complaint.

Henry was arrested, handcuffed, and placed face-down in a transport vehicle without being secured by a seat belt, according to the complaint. As a result he “was subjected to choking, and constant battering to his face and body during his entire trip,” according to the complaint.

Henry was thrown into a holding cell while still handcuffed, causing a head injury, according to the complaint. Henry also sustained a broken jaw and teeth from the incident.

Henry was eventually taken to the hospital and then flown to University of Maryland Shock Trauma for treatment.

The lawsuit was filed in July 2015 and names as defendants multiple officers, public safety aides, Ocean City Police Chief Ross C. Buzzuro and the city. The complaint alleged civil rights violations, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, negligence and violations of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.

Henry was represented by Emanuel M. Levin of Emanuel M. Levin & Associates P.A. in Baltimore.

The case is John Henry v. Officer Bernard Wawzyanick et al., 1:15-cv-01993.