Six adult children of Elbert Davis, an 86-year-old man killed in April 2010 when a driver fleeing Baltimore police crashed into Davis’ vehicle, have filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), seeking $25 million in damages. Davis’ children assert that, instead of calling an ambulance or providing medical treatment, Baltimore City police focused on planting drugs in the vehicle that crashed in order to justify their pursuit.
The pursuit began when members of the now disbanded Gun Trace Task Force illegally stopped Umar Burley under the false premise that he was conducting a drug transaction. Burley fled the scene, and the officers illegally gave chase, which ended when Burley’s vehicle crashed into the vehicle of Davis, killing Davis and injuring his wife. Among the officers giving pursuit—and who the charges are filed against—are Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, who was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison in June, Sergeant Ryan Guinn and Detective Sean Suiter, who was fatally shot last year. Jenkins testified that he ordered heroin to be planted in Burley’s vehicle directly after the crash. More details of the incident can be found here.
After a lengthy investigation, the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force was found to have acted as a criminal gang, robbing drug dealers and those suspected of dealing, selling drugs and falsely claiming overtime. More than 100 cases the task force worked have been overturned, and the victims of their illegal activities have filed lawsuits seeking compensation. The Davis family’s suit is the latest filed against the task force, and “this is the one case [in which] an innocent man was killed,” said John Solter Jr. of Azrael, Franz, Schwab and Lipowitz. The family’s grief, he said, “has turned to anger.”
The lawsuit against the BPD reads, “The false statements of Jenkins, Guinn and Suiter, adopted by the BPD, misled not only state and federal agents and prosecutors, but also [Davis’] family as they sought justice for the death of their father.” While City Solicitor Andre Davis, who represents the BPD, has said that the actions of the officers were outside of the scope of their employment, and that consequently the city cannot be held responsible to pay out judgments, Judson Lipowitz of Azrael, Franz, Schwab and Lipowitz has dismissed the idea, saying that the corrupt practices of the officers “were tolerated by the Baltimore Police Department, and implicate the entire chain of command from Detective Jenkins to his supervisors up to the commissioner, and all the way up to the mayor and any of the policymakers who were familiar.”
The plaintiffs in the suit include Davis’ daughters Shirley Johnson, Delores Davis, Mary Cox and Gloria Davis, as well as his sons Albert Cain and Elbert Davis Jr. The administrator of Davis’ deceased son, Arthur Cain, is also included in the suit.
The attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab and Lipowitz are dedicated to defending the rights of survivors who have lost family members to negligence and criminal wrongdoing and seek to collect damages for victims. To learn more about Azrael, Franz, Schwab and Lipowitz’s commitment to victim advocacy, click here.