JUST IN:Taxpayers Pay for Punitive Damages in Police Lawsuit
BALTIMORE (WBFF)-- After a week of accusations and denials between Baltimore’s top lawyer and the police union, officers will be protected from punitive damages they may have paid themselves.
In one particular case of two men who said they were falsely arrested, the city solicitor decided to cover the award. But officers may not always be covered for punitive damages and the city will take a look at that in a case by case basis.
The punitive damages covered, total $32,500 after reaching an agreement with plaintiffs in the suit. Baltimore’s top lawyer, Andre Davis, concluded the city would cover them, even though he says, the city is not legally responsible to do so.
City documents show a jury awarded $40,000 in punitive damages in a lawsuit against five BPD officers, after finding those officers acted with “actual malice.”
While the city did pay out the $147,100 in other damages awarded by the jury, the Law Department said the city did not have to pay the punitive damages. The police officers in the lawsuit would have to pay those damages themselves.
The union for city cops released a memo warning its officers that since the new city solicitor, Andre Davis, came into office last year, “he has adopted a policy of not paying punitive damages despite the fact that the Police Officer has been found to have acted appropriately by the office of the State’s Attorney as well as the Baltimore Police Department.”
“Please keep this in mind as you go about performing your duties,” the memo reads.
Wednesday, the city solicitor responded to the memo, saying no city policies have changed.
In an interview with FOX45, Davis says he was taking a closer look at whether officers should be protected from punitive damages as a result of the federal indictments of the Gun Trace Task Force.
I want to emphasize that my decision in this case is entirely unrelated to the spurious assertions by the Fraternal Order of Police suggesting that under my leadership there has been a change of policy by the Baltimore City Law Department regarding the defense and indemnification of Baltimore City police officers against whom punitive damages awards had been entered by the courts. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Davis said.