City officers to be indicted in teens' kidnapping
Three officers accused of abandoning West Baltimore teen in Howard County park last May
The Baltimore Sun
3:22 p.m. EDT
May 4, 2010
Three Baltimore police officers were expected to be indicted Tuesday by a city grand jury on charges that they kidnapped two West Baltimore teens, leaving one in a Howard County state park without shoes, socks or his cell phone, according to multiple sources who had been briefed on the matter.
The indictment would come on the one-year anniversary of when Michael Brian Johnson Jr. said he was picked up by three officers and taken to Patapsco State Park. Last June, the city chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for criminal charges, and the teen and his family filed a multi-million lawsuit against the officers in March.
The officers, Tyrone S. Francis, Milton G. Smith III and a yet-to-be identified officer, were expected to be charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, second-degree assault and misconduct in office, sources said. At the time of the incident, they were assigned to the department's plainclothes Violent Crimes Impact Section.
In the lawsuit, filed March 2 in Baltimore Circuit Court, Johnson said he was in front of his cousin's house in the 1600 block of N. Gilmor St. at about 6:30 p.m. when a city police van pulled up and an officer instructed the group of teens to "keep it moving." The teens left the area and walked to a playground before returning to the cousin's home and sitting on the steps.
The police van pulled around the corner and one of the officers motioned for Johnson to come to the driver's side window. He said one of the officers instructed him not to look at him "the wrong way," or he would physically harm him.
Johnson said he responded, "Man, you ain't gonna do nothing," and turned to walk away.
That's when, he claims in the lawsuit, he was forced into an unmarked van by officers identified only by badges around their necks who hit him with a night stick and threw the battery of his cell phone out the window. The officers said he needed to "show them respect" as they drove him down Interstate 95.
"I will keep driving until you say stop," the driver said to the other. They finally stopped in the 8300 block of Baltimore National Pike, in Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City.
There, he said, he was told to take off his shoes and socks and pushed out of the van. Johnson found a pay phone at a gas station and called 911, giving an account of the incident to Howard County police, according to a copy of a report obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Howard County officers returned him to his home.
Johnson said that his friend, Sean Quinn Woodland, had also been transported by the officers from one area of the city to another. Sources said Woodland was left in East Baltimore. Johnson's attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Civil rights leaders have been calling for charges in the case and had questioned the pace of the investigation. They also said such incidents, in which people are transported throughout the city against their will in an effort to intimidate them, is more commonplace than is reported.
"This case is not so complicated," said NAACP attorney Roland Patterson said last year. "There's either an arrest or a kidnapping. We don't think there's any in-between."
The lawsuit was the second filed against Francis in the past year. Last May, a woman and her daughter alleged Francis and three other officers beat her after she protested the arrest of her boyfriend. Latasha Calvert said she suffered head injuries, a fractured elbow and torn ligaments in her left knee as a result of the beating. The officers have denied the claims.
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