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Baltimore city spending panel to approve $45K police settlement

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis. (The Daily Record/File photo)

Baltimore’s spending panel is set to approve a $45,000 settlement with a woman who claims police used excessive force when they removed her from her car during a 2015 traffic stop.

D’Wan Whetstone filed suit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore last year alleging Baltimore Police Department officers had a pattern of unconstitutional policing that contributed to the incident.

Whetstone was arrested on March 12, 2015, after an officer observed her vehicle double-parked while she spoke with a pedestrian, according to the complaint. The officer, according to his report, then began a traffic stop, ran a check on Whetstone’s tags, discovered her license was suspended and placed Whetstone under arrest, the lawsuit states.

A supervisor arrived on the scene at Whetstone’s request along with additional officers, who allegedly pulled Whetstone from the car “with such excessive force that her limbs were severely bruised and her face was caused to slam into the roadway,” according to the complaint.

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates is expected to approve the settlement, reached after the parties mediated the case with a federal magistrate judge, on Wednesday. Whetstone’s settlement is the first to go before the board since the passage of a bill banning nondisparagement clauses in settlement agreements.

The bill, unanimously passed by the Baltimore City Council on Oct. 28, went into effect Dec. 2 after Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young decided not to sign it. Baltimore City Solicitor Andre M. Davis has been a vocal opponent of the bill, which he said “impinges” on the Law Department’s power to negotiate legal settlements, a power given to the solicitor in the city charter.

“Approval of such agreements and their terms is within the prerogative of the City Solicitor,” Davis wrote in a letter to the mayor and City Council members in September. “An ordinance cannot direct the City Solicitor otherwise.”

The new law prohibits the Law Department from approving any settlement agreement involving police misconduct that contains a provision requiring the plaintiff to waive his or her right to make any statement about the city, agency or employee or the facts of the claim and terms of the settlement. The Board of Estimates is also prohibited from approving a settlement that includes such a provision and the city cannot enforce or threaten to enforce the provision in any past agreements.

Davis said this month that the city no longer uses nondisparagement clauses.

Whetstone is represented by Charles H. Edwards IV of the Law Office of Barry R. Glazer LLC in Baltimore. Edwards did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The case is D’Wan Whetstone v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore et al., 1:18cv00738.

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