Man arrested after saying he forgot key to car, sued after police ‘stole’ him from house

A longtime Baltimore activist filed a lawsuit against three Baltimore police officers on Thursday alleging that they’re responsible for an unjustified police shooting and several days of harassment after he was “stolen” from his…

Man arrested after saying he forgot key to car, sued after police ‘stole’ him from house

A longtime Baltimore activist filed a lawsuit against three Baltimore police officers on Thursday alleging that they’re responsible for an unjustified police shooting and several days of harassment after he was “stolen” from his house by police.

Samuel Scott Jr., a professor at the University of Baltimore and longtime proponent of criminal justice reform, was arrested in early May and charged with “stealing” his car, but a Baltimore County judge tossed out those charges in June.

On Friday, Scott filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department, Sgt. H. Graham and Officers J. King and H. Cook, alleging a pattern of illegal stops, searches and handcuffing, among other allegations.

In the suit, Scott alleges he was arrested on May 10, at the time his home in Parkville had been burglarized. He did not have his key in his wallet. The officers had a search warrant, but apparently thought he’d put it down a book where he was given an undisclosed number of days to produce it. Scott had rented a car a week earlier but forgot it in his house.

He said in the suit that the officers then took him out of his house without a warrant and handcuffed him. They questioned him about his role in a theft from a vacant house he owns and repeatedly tried to search his Chevy Avalanche and try to free him from handcuffs. They asked him if he’d been driving or preparing to drive a motorcycle; he was on foot when officers asked if he was a miker.

When Scott said he was asleep and the officers couldn’t wake him up, they handcuffed him again. They told him he could not use the phone to call for help. Scott said he asked to speak with a supervisor. That request was denied.

Scott ended up sleeping in a back room at a nearby McDonald’s. The next day, an officer at a city checkpoint pulled him over, questioned him more and forced him out of the car and onto the ground. They placed handcuffs on him and searched the vehicle, finding a false title that they said Scott had used without permission. The two officers suggested to Scott that he’d be charged with vehicle theft. They arrested Scott and charged him with both the violations and one count of driving without a license. A judge eventually dismissed the charges at his bail hearing.

After the incident, Scott said that police charged him with possession of an illegal firearm and that he had actually been carrying a shotgun, which he holds legally. A grand jury, however, ended up declining to indict him on any charges, Scott said.

Scott said officers later called him “beef” and told him he was “filthy.”

Scott, 71, says in the suit that he wasn’t in his house when the burglary happened. “I never broke the law nor were I responsible for the burglary,” he said in a written statement issued by his legal team. “The alleged offenses of which I was accused are in large part frivolous.”

A spokeswoman for the Baltimore Police Department referred questions to the city solicitor’s office, which did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The Baltimore County police department did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Contact Jonathan Jones at [email protected]

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