Man whose nose was broken in 2015 scuffle with city officers set to receive $90,000 settlement

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Photo by Elvert Barnes, via Flickr

The city has agreed to pay $90,000 to a man who sued multiple Baltimore police officers after they broke his nose in a May 2015 scuffle at a Mount Vernon row house, and then charged him several weeks later with assaulting one of the officers.

Under the terms of the deal, Donovan Hand, listed in court records as residing in Irvine, California, has agreed to drop a civil lawsuit alleging assault and battery by Sgt. Stephen Wilson, Det. Denise Gore and Officers Jordan Deremer and Fareed Muhammad. The city’s spending board is scheduled to approve the deal Wednesday morning.

Hand was present at a Mount Vernon building on the evening of May 7, 2015, when police responded for a reported armed robbery and break-in and found a “bloodied individual,” an agenda for this week’s Board of Estimates meeting says. Hand told the officers he had heard a commotion and seen three people–one of whom he said threatened him with a knife—fleeing the home.

A copy of Hand’s lawsuit, obtained by Baltimore Fishbowl, says he was in his upstairs apartment, and that the break-in happened one floor below. It also says the officers initially detained a man not included in the trio that Hand saw run away, and that Hand ultimately convinced the officers to let their suspect go.

According to the filing, Gore asked Hand to come down to the police station and deliver a formal account that same night. Hand declined, saying he had to get up early for a job interview the next morning, and asked if he could instead stop by on May 8. The officers insisted he come down, and did not permit him to give a statement on-site, it says.

What ensued were “verbal exchanges and some physical contact between Mr. Hand and the officers,” according to the board agenda. Specifically, his lawsuit alleges Wilson twisted Hand’s arm behind his back and “slammed” him against a police car, and that Hand then got up and tried to run back to his building, only to be tackled and restrained by officers and then punched in the nose by Wilson.

Police then transported him to the station, interviewed him and released him without filing any charges.

Several weeks later, police arrested Hand on charges that he assaulted Wilson. Hand “spent three nights in custody, during which he was assaulted,” the agenda says, before police ultimately dropped the charges.

Hand sued the department in January of 2017, accusing the officers of false arrest and imprisonment, assault, use of excessive force and more. Court records say all four officers received subpoenas in late March, but both sides then reached a settlement earlier this month.

Baltimore Fishbowl has reached out to the officers’ attorney.

“While the law allows police to detain a witness to a serious crime for questioning, the precise circumstances of this matter are subject to serious dispute,” the board agenda says. It notes that the Law Department’s Settlement Committee has asked the board to approve the deal “in the best interest of the city.”

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
Ethan McLeod
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