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Baltimore to settle police wrongful death lawsuit for $300K

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates is scheduled to approve Wednesday a $300,000 settlement with the family of a man who died in police custody in 2012 after police say he ingested narcotics.

The proposed settlement of a federal lawsuit brought by the family of Anthony Anderson Sr. is the highest amount in a police brutality case since the board unanimously approved a $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Gray in September 2015.

Anthony Anderson Sr. was approached by Baltimore police officers after they observed a suspected narcotics transaction in September 2012, according to the memorandum prepared for the city spending panel. The officers claimed Anderson did not respond to commands and began ingesting the narcotics, which lead to them using a take-down maneuver and handcuffing him.

Anderson became unwell at the scene and emergency medical services responded, performed CPR and transported Anderson to the hospital where he died as a result of internal injuries, according to the memorandum. The death was ruled a homicide by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner but the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office in January 2013 decided not to charge the officers involved after reviewing the case.

Police said Anderson died choking on drugs but the medical examiner ruled the drugs found in his system did not contribute to his death.

The parties propose to settle the case due to “conflicting factual issues and given the uncertainties and unpredictability of jury verdicts,” according to the Board of Estimates memo.

Anderson’s estate filed suit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in October 2013 seeking $20 million and alleging the department “maintained a policy of unconstitutional and unlawful excessive force to be used when no probable cause had been established or reasonable suspicion to suspect that criminal activity is afoot.”

The lawsuit claims Anderson was walking through a vacant lot in his neighborhood when an officer approached him from behind, picked him up and slammed him to the ground.

The lawsuit calls the nature of the seizure excessive under the circumstances and alleges wrongful death and survival action on behalf of Anderson’s family as well as state tort claims and violations of the state and federal constitutions.

The Local Government Tort Claims Act typically caps liability for a government actor at $200,000 but the cap does not apply to federal civil right claims.

Anderson’s estate is represented by Baltimore solo practitioner J. Wyndal Gordon and Rockville solo practitioner Tremaine Quindon Ross.

The case is Estate of Anthony Anderson et al. v. Strohman et al., 1:13cv03167.

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