Annapolis police “improperly seized” $1,500 from Kenneth Cherry-Bey, 41, on December 24, 2016 after being found slumped over in his vehicle. Police initially denied any wrongdoing until released body cam footage proved Cherry-Bey’s claims. Now Cherry-Bey is suing the department for “emotional trauma, humiliation, distress and damage to personal property”. The main officer involved in the incident, Cpl. Duane Daniels, was allowed to resign avoiding a termination being placed on his permanent record.
Cherry-Bey’s attorney, James Sweeting III, alleges that the incident in conjunction with the city’s response is indicative of the Annapolis Police Department and Mayor Mike Pantelides fostering “an environment of lawlessness, unaccountability and disregard for procedure and the rights of citizens.”
According to the lawsuit, the police department along with the police chief, Scott Baker, and three other officers caused Cherry-Bey “emotional trauma, humiliation, distress and damage to personal property” when the police officers found and detained him Christmas Eve.
After the initial claim of theft by Cherry-Bey was made, The Capital ran their own investigation and subsequent story pressuring the city to come clean about the events that night. The city grudgingly admitted that Cpl. Daniels did in fact take the money after review of body cam footage. The city repaid Cherry-Bey the money after an internal investigation.
Chief Baker, after the story went public in July, said that Daniel’s actions were “not acceptable.” The county State Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and found no grounds for criminal charges for theft to be filed against Daniels and he was allowed to resign.
Pantelides said in July that he thought Daniels would have been fired if he hadn’t retired. The lawsuit makes mention of the mayor’s sentiment as justification for the suit.
“The Chief Executive Officer, the Mayor of the City of Annapolis indicated that the conduct of the Defendant Corporal Duane Daniels should have resulted in his dismissal, however the environment that was fostered at the Annapolis Police Department by the Defendants were such that no adverse action was taken against Defendant Corporal Duane Daniels,” attorney James Sweeting III wrote in the lawsuit.
Sweeting stated in July that Cherry-Bey lost work and friends and family were skeptical about his story of being robbed by police officers.
The city is also expected to be mentioned in the lawsuit. The city has been aware of the suit however they have not been formally served according to Assistant City Attorney Gary Elson. Elson stated that it is his belief that the city is not liable despite the city’s complicity in fostering an environment where a crooked cop is allowed to resign instead of being terminated or charged criminally.
“We don’t feel responsible for the damages he’s claiming,” Elson said.
The Baltimore Sun reports of the events that evening:
Police said officers found Cherry-Bey slumped over the steering wheel of his car while parked at the 24/7 Fuel Mart, a convenience store on Forest Drive. The officers said they suspected Cherry-Bey of being high on PCP. He was held in a police cruiser for a period of time before an officer took him to the hospital, police said.
Months after the incident, city officials confirmed that Daniels seized $1,500 in cash from the vehicle, and released videotape of him placing the money in his hat.
The city did repay the money to Cherry-Bey and Daniels was allowed to cut the city a check before resigning.
The lawsuit also alleges that Daniels and two other officers violated Cherry-Bey’s constitutional right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and deprivation of property without due process.
“The Annapolis Police Department and Chief Baker enacted or perpetuated a policy, practice or custom that authorizes the seizure and confiscation of personal property without notice or an opportunity to be heard,” the lawsuit read.
Cherry-Bey is seeking more than $15,000 in damages.
Like. Share. Comment. Subscribe.