Brad Hallwig, the lawyer for a man whose conviction was overturned, thought news headlines should read: “Bad police shooting turns into cover-up.”
Hallwig’s client, Darryl A. White, Jr. of Baltimore sued two police officers for $30 million, for the shooting deaths of his cousin and friend and his wrongful imprisonment. The families of the two who died joined White in the lawsuit. A judge declared a mistrial Monday, WBALTV.com reported.
The lawsuit stems from a shootout on July 4, 2008, when three police officers in a marked cruiser responded to an Independence Day party at a union hall where gun shots had been heard.
The officers – James L. Brooks and Christopher D. Ahearn – claimed they were targets, according to the Baltimore Sun. They said they were fired at from within the white Ford Taurus. The lawsuit says they responded with more than two dozen shots.
White’s cousin, Heywood White, 18, and friend, Raemond White, 21, were both killed. A bullet also pierced Darryl White’s hand. Officers said they recovered handguns from the Taurus.
Following the shooting, Darryl White was charged on 20 counts, including attempted murder. He was ultimately convicted on handgun violation charges and sentenced to 12 years.
In prison, White continued to claim his innocence, saying that he didn’t have a weapon that night. On appeal, testimony revealed that the officers did not see him with a handgun and that police had not tested him for gunshot residue. A Maryland Court of Special Appeals overturned his conviction last March.
White then sued, saying that the shots heard were celebratory, and that the officers opened fire in response.
White’s lawyers say police planted evidence by placing a shell casing inside the Taurus.
"Why the cover-up? Why the plan?” Mark Herman, an attorney for the plaintiff told the court on Monday. “The defendants knew they had a problem. They had killed two innocent people and shot a third."
Paul M. Blair, Jr. president of the city’s police union, defended the officers.
"You carry guns ... nowadays on the street, and you start shooting at police, then the police are going to return fire," Blair said, according to the Baltimore Sun.
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