Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Baltimore jury awards $2.7M to man beaten by prison guards

A Baltimore jury on Wednesday awarded $2.7 million to a man who was beaten by correctional officers in 2013, finding prison officials failed to take adequate steps to protect him.

Kevin Younger was assaulted by several officers  at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostics & Classification Center in Baltimore the day after he witnessed other inmates assaulting a guard. Because he had been present, Younger was segregated, as were those implicated in the attack, according to the lawsuit. Sgt. Kwasi Ramsey, Sgt. Jemiah Green and Officer Richard Hanna, believing Younger had been involved, attacked him as “misplaced retaliation,” according to the lawsuit.

A jury trial began June 3 in Baltimore City Circuit Court. Attorneys presented closing arguments Tuesday and jurors began deliberating Wednesday morning. Attorney Allen Honick and a spokeswoman for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General confirmed the verdict against the state Wednesday afternoon.

Attorney David Daneman told the jury Tuesday that the case brought words such as “disturbing,” “preventable,” “failure” and “inhumanity” to mind.

“What was done to this gentleman on that day was inhumane,” said Daneman, a partner at Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP in Baltimore. “These people may not have treated him as a human being but he is a human being.”

Honick and Daneman said Wednesday they were grateful for the jury’s verdict.

Younger was at first administratively charged with the initial assault on a guard and served 120 days in solitary confinement, according to Daneman. He was also criminally charged, but the case was later dismissed.

The three officers were indicted and two were convicted, while one pleaded guilty to assaulting Younger, according to Daneman.

The state’s position at trial was that Ramsey, Green and Hanna were “three rogue officers” whose actions could not have been foreseen. But Daneman said the incident was the result of a “system-wide failure” at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

“You can’t let this happen on your watch and, if you do, you have to pay fairly,” Daneman said.

Prison officials, including the warden, were aware of prior use of force incidents involving the officers and of the risk of retaliation against inmates believed to have been involved in an attack on a corrections officer, he said.

The Maryland Office of the Attorney General did not comment on the verdict.

Younger sued the state, warden and correctional officers in U.S. District Court in September 2016, but the state and Stephen T. Moyer, secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, were dismissed last August for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A lawsuit against the state was filed less than a month later in state court. The federal case is still pending.

The case is Kevin Younger v. State of Maryland, 24C17004752.

To purchase a reprint of this article, contact [email protected].