Readings — From the July 2015 issue

Bleakness Stakes

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From summaries of police-brutality cases recently settled by the city of Baltimore. An investigation conducted last year by the Baltimore Sun found that police-misconduct settlements have cost the city nearly $6 million since 2011. Compiled by Ryann Liebenthal and Shayla Love.

Venus Green, an eighty-seven-year-old woman, telephoned for an ambulance after she heard her grandson yell from down the street that he had been shot. When police arrived, they accused her and her grandson of lying about the circumstances and location of the shooting. One officer dragged Green along her living-room floor, pressed his knee into her back, twisted her arms, handcuffed her, and threw her facedown onto her couch. “Bitch,” he said, “you are no better than any of the other old black bitches that I have locked up.” An hour later, another officer came in and saw the plaintiff bent over and crying. He turned to the officers who had cuffed her. “Can’t you see that Ms. Green is an old lady?” Settlement: $95,370

During a traffic stop of seventy-seven-year-old James “Lenny” Clay, who was suspected of driving while intoxicated and hitting a parked car, Baltimore police officers slammed him to the ground, fracturing his arm, breaking his eyeglasses, and cracking his dentures. Settlement: $63,000

Lornell Felder, a sixty-two-year-old man, was standing in front of his house near midnight. When he began rolling a cigarette, two men dressed in jeans and sweats jumped from an unmarked SUV and ran toward him. Felder fled toward his house, but the men grabbed him. Felder punched one of them and yelled to his wife to call the police. She shouted into the phone, “I need the police. Some guys are beating up my husband.” Felder screamed three more times, begging someone to call the police. One of the assailants said, “We are the police.” The men continued to beat Felder, whom they suspected of marijuana possession. Settlement: $100,000

Daudi Collier was walking down the street when a squad car pulled up to him. Police officers in the car alleged that he was walking with a clenched fist, suggesting possession of contraband, in a high-crime area. Collier claimed that one of the officers pushed a door of the car into him. Collier began to run. The officers gave chase and beat him with their walkie-talkies. Settlement: $175,000

Starr Brown, a pregnant twenty-six-year-old, was entering her house with her three-year-old when she saw a group of girls attack two other girls walking down the block. The police arrived, and most of the girls fled. In the course of questioning the victims, the police began to yell. Brown interceded and explained that the two girls had been attacked. The officers told Brown to mind her own business. They pulled her from the entryway of her house and pushed her to the ground. One officer placed his knee on her back. She was arrested and charged with hindering an investigation, resisting arrest, second-degree assault, and disorderly conduct. Brown’s child, who witnessed the arrest, was left home alone during her detention. All of the charges were eventually dropped. Settlement: $125,000

Jonathan Hunt, a fifty-three-year-old mechanic, was walking on the sidewalk. Without warning, seven unidentified police officers attacked Hunt from behind. He was hospitalized and treated for a broken leg, broken collarbone, three cracked ribs, facial lacerations, and contusions. Hunt was never taken to central booking, nor was a statement of probable cause provided to him. He now walks with a cane. Settlement: $60,000

After Lillian Parker finished her duties as a cafeteria worker at a public elementary school, she went to her church to decorate for a weekend prayer breakfast. Later, she stopped near a restaurant, where a friend planned to meet her to pick up tickets for the event. A Baltimore police officer approached Parker. She was ordered to sit on the street, handcuffed, and arrested on suspicion of narcotics violations. She was held for more than two days in central booking before her case was dismissed. Settlement: $100,000

Jerriel Lyles entered P&J Carry Out. According to Lyles, David Greene, a plainclothes Baltimore police officer, assaulted him, breaking his nose and injuring his left eye, before departing with two other officers. None of the men identified themselves as police. Later, officers claimed that Lyles became hostile after they requested his driver’s license. They also alleged that Lyles had replied to Greene’s question about what had caused a “trickle of blood” near his left eye by saying “I poked myself in the eye.” Settlement: $200,000

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