Civil Liberties

Covered at Reason 24/7: False Imprisonment Costs Baltimore $150K


Reason 24/7

The police of the fine city of Baltimore are hard at work — costing the taxpayers a fortune. It seems they locked up a man based on the assumption that he'd helped knock over a Chinese restaurant. They assumed his guilt because they'd been told that "Mookie" was the second culprit (they already had a guy in custody), and "Mookie" must be Darren Brown. But he wasn't. Which they admitted only after Brown had been locked up for seven months. That was three months after the first suspect's mother had identified her nephew as the real "Mookie."

From Baltimore Brew:

An innocent man imprisoned for seven months by Baltimore police on the basis of his reputed nickname will be awarded $150,000 to settle his lawsuit.

The Board of Estimates is set to pay the sum tomorrow to Darren Brown, who charged four police officers with acting "with deliberate and/or reckless disregard for the truth" while conducting an investigation of an August 2008 shooting at a Chinese carry-out on Harford Rd.

The case was settled after U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett denied a motion by the four defendants to dismiss the suit. The cash settlement will terminate the case, with the proviso that the plaintiff and his lawyers not publicly discuss the lawsuit.

The Brown case is the latest of scores of settlements since 2008 – costing taxpayers an average of $3.5 million a year – paid to citizens who have accused police of misconduct. Included in these fees are as much as $700,000 a year that the city spends for outside counsel defending officers from lawsuits.

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