Case dismissed against Princess Anne police officers

Posted 1/24/23

BALTIMORE — The federal lawsuit against the Town of Princess Anne and two of its police officers by plaintiff Don Hanna was dismissed at the request of his attorney and accepted by each cited …

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Case dismissed against Princess Anne police officers

Posted

BALTIMORE — The federal lawsuit against the Town of Princess Anne and two of its police officers by plaintiff Don Hanna was dismissed at the request of his attorney and accepted by each cited party.

The attorneys for Hanna, the town, and defendants, Officer Chad Savage and Sgt. Robert Smith (now a lieutenant), voluntarily stipulated on Jan. 6 that the case be dismissed as to all claims and the order was signed by U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett three days later.

The dismissal is “with prejudice” meaning it cannot be refiled. Each party is responsible for their own attorney fees.

“The dismissal of the lawsuit, at the request of the plaintiff, shows that the efforts of the Princess Anne Police Department to maintain policies and procedures, to hire and retain competent police officers…are necessary and working,” said Chief Robert Wink, who was confident the case would be dismissed.

The PAPD “is proud to and will continue to provide protection and service to the residents of Princess Anne.”

There were several allegations by Hanna stemming from his arrest on June 2, 2020 when police arrived to his Church Street address for a report of a domestic assault in progress.

Hanna, now age 63, was charged with second degree assault and resisting arrest, but in District Court on Aug. 24, 2020 he was found not guilty by visiting Baltimore County Judge Philip Tirabassi.

During the course of his arrest police took Hanna down after he threw an empty box at the officers, and it was alleged his jaw was broken as well as suffering other medical maladies that required treatment at Shock Trauma.

Hanna’s attorney Malcolm Ruff alleged the officers, who are white, used excessive force, battered and falsely imprisoned his client who is Black and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Sept. 8, 2022 — making an announcement that day during a press conference outside Town Hall.

The lawsuit was amended twice, the second time in December, with the changes watering down the language and allegations. For example, it was no longer termed a “vicious attack” on Hanna but a “violation of Plaintiff’s rights” and the take down of Hanna was altered so that he was “unreasonably” rather than “viciously” slammed to the ground.

Counts alleging gross negligence and alleging that the town failed to train its officers were also deleted from the amended complaint, as was wording that their actions were “motivated by ill will and actual malice.”

In addition to Ruff, also representing Hanna was William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr. who in 2015 represented the family of Freddie Gray and settled a wrongful death case against Baltimore City for $6.4 million.

The town was represented by attorney William Dickerson, Officer Savage by Jason Levine, and Lt. Smith by Raymond Mulera.

Lt. Smith, a 17-year veteran of the PAPD said this type of situation is one many officers face in today’s climate, “where people rush to opinion without knowing the facts.” The body camera footage used as evidence shows both he and Officer Savage “exercising restraint and compassion throughout the incident.”

“We appreciate the support from the community,” Chief Wink added, including those who didn’t jump to conclusions and allowed the investigation to proceed to a just conclusion.”

Two other law enforcers present during Hanna’s arrest, a deputy from the Sheriff’s Office and a UMES police officer, were not named in charging documents or in the lawsuit.

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