Baltimore Offers $135,000 Settlement to Black Man Assaulted by 5 Cops with Metal Batons & Taser

From [BaltimoreBrew] Mayor Catherine Pugh and the Board of Estimates will pay $135,000 tomorrow to settle a lawsuit by a Black man whose beating by five Baltimore police officers was filmed by a bystander and released to the media.

Cellphone video recorded the violent arrest of Jamar Kennedy, then 29, in the early morning hours of September 23, 2014, outside of Melba’s Place, a nightclub on Greenmount Avenue in Waverly.

Kennedy had been removed from the club in a chokehold by “an aggressive bouncer,” according to the settlement summary. Observing the two men’s struggle outside the club, Officer Scott A. Armstrong tasered Kennedy. Apparently, the bouncer was not arrested for the chokehold  - which is an assault. 

The video shows four officers swinging their metal batons at Kennedy and striking him, who at one point tries to shield himself from the blows with an upraised hand. Police tackle him, force him to the ground and stun him for a second time with a Taser.

Arrested on charges of second-degree assault and resisting arrest, Kennedy was still in jail without bail held pre-trial when the video surfaced.

Then-Police Commissioner Anthony Batts held a news conference to say that he believed the use of force was justified, but the department would conduct an internal investigation. The department cleared its officers. 

The investigation cleared the five officers involved in the arrest – Armstrong, Greg M. Edleman, Nicholas G. Lancetta, Sheena I. Newman and Maria Perez. All five officers remain on the force.

Kennedy, meanwhile, filed a $5 million lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court claiming assault, battery, false arrest and imprisonment.

At the time of the 2014 incident, police said that Kennedy had punched officers before the video had started and that three of the officers had suffered minor injuries.

They also said that, as Kennedy was being arrested, a female officer retrieved his inhaler and gave it to him. They said this showed that police had “rendered aid” once they had gotten control of the situation.

The settlement summary released yesterday by the Board of Estimates does not allege any punches thrown by the plaintiff. Apparently the Board did not find the officer's statements to be credible or accurate.

Regarding the inhaler, the summary sheet said that Kennedy “claims that he suffered an asthma attack as a result of the encounter, together with multiple physical injuries and the expenses of defending subsequent legal proceedings. He attributes his injuries to the unnecessary and excessive force employed by the officers.”