The family of a Baltimore man who was fatally shot when he confronted a group of squeegee workers with a baseball bat last month plans to sue the city, police department and state’s attorney’s office over his death, their lawyers announced Friday.
The lawsuit will claim that the city was negligent and did not enforce laws that could have prevented the shooting, according to the law firm representing the family, the Snyder Law Group. The family has sent notice of their intent to sue, which is a first step toward filing a complaint in court.
Police said that Timothy Reynolds, 48, was fatally shot on July 7 after he accosted a group of squeegee workers while wielding a bat at the intersection of Light and Conway streets downtown. A 15-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting.
The lawsuit will argue that the shooting would not have happened if city officials properly enforced laws and protected city residents.
“City officials can’t stand by and allow this illegal activity to continue anymore,” said Michael B. Snyder, one of the lawyers for the family. “Choosing not to enforce laws, make arrests and prosecute offenders, who knowingly put the public at risk, is beyond negligence, it’s gross negligence.”
Friday’s news release does not specify what laws the suit will focus on, but the complaint is likely to center on Baltimore’s panhandling law, which is largely unenforced. The release also references media reports that police had responded to a report of squeegee workers harassing people at the same intersection where the shooting took place earlier in the day.
“These squeegee workers were allowed to stay at the location and continue to congregate and force themselves upon citizens,” the Snyder firm said in the release.
The release does not mention that Reynolds parked his car and approached the squeegee workers with a bat. In an interview, Michael Snyder said Reynolds brought the bat with him for protection after his vehicle was vandalized.
“He wasn’t getting out of his car with a bat in an aggressive way,” Snyder said.
The lawyers said the “multi-million dollar lawsuit” will name Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and their respective offices, as defendants.
James Bentley, a spokesperson for the mayor, said in an email that the city “is aware of the announcement and will respond in the appropriate legal forum.” A spokesperson for Mosby’s office did not return a request for comment.
Warren Brown, a lawyer for the teenager charged in the shooting, said Friday that a lawsuit over a crime that police failed to prevent would open a “Pandora’s box.”
“If we sue the city every time there’s a police failure to arrest someone and that person commits a crime, we’ll go broke,” he said. “I just don’t think it has any legs.”
Brown and the teen’s other defense attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, have said the boy acted in self-defense. He is charged as an adult in the shooting, but Brown said he has filed a request to transfer the case into juvenile court.