BALTIMORE (AP) — Six men arrested during the unrest prompted by Freddie Gray’s death in police custody sued the Baltimore Police Department, the state and more than a dozen officers Tuesday, alleging that they were beaten, abused and deprived of their constitutionally protected right to protest.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the department, the state of Maryland and 22 police officers, as well as former police chief Anthony Batts, who was fired last July and heavily criticized for his response to the unrest.
The plaintiffs include Larry Lomax, 25, who was pepper sprayed in the face by police officers while crossing the street on May 2 at 10 p.m., the mandatory curfew time. The incident was caught on video and showed officers dragging an incapacitated Lomax by his hair. After being pepper sprayed Lomax was arrested and charged with assault, inciting a riot, curfew violation and disorderly conduct. He spent 20 days in jail, the suit says, and the state ultimately dropped three of the charges. Lomax was acquitted of the disorderly conduct charge at trial.
Albert Tubman, 45, said he wasn’t participating in any protests on April 25 when an officer approached him as he was getting out of his car and knocked him to the ground, struck him with a baton and arrested him, the suit says. He was jailed and charged with assault, disorderly conduct, carrying a dangerous weapon and rioting; all charges were dropped.
Another plaintiff, Eric Glass, 27, said he was tackled to the ground on April 25 while he was recording a protest with his cellphone. Glass says he was punched and kicked, and his cellphone was confiscated. After being arrested he was taken to a hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with a pinched nerve, abrasions on his back and a burst lip. He too was charged with rioting, disorderly conduct and other charges that were later dropped. Roosevelt Johnson, 44, alleged that he was beaten by officers while walking down the street and arrested. The suit says Johnson was taken to a hospital with a bruised lung, cement burns and other injuries. His charges were dropped.
Andrew Fisher, an American University student and founder of an independent news outlet, was arrested on May 2 for violating curfew even though media representatives were exempt, while Myreq Williams, 21, said officers pulled him off of a bus as he was leaving a protest and broke his arm. He was never charged with a crime.
Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith and Christine Tobar, public information officer for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, decline to comment citing pending litigation.
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