Three officers accused of using a racial slur while using excessive force to wrongfully detain a Hyattsville man are set to face those charges in U.S. District Court Monday.
Filed by Towhee A. Sparrow Jr. in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in 2016, the Prince George’s man is suing the city and the officers, saying they violated his Fourth Amendment rights, wrongfully detained him and injured him when he was handcuffed at gunpoint on June 5, 2014.
Now two years after filing the suit with no settlement between the two sides, the case will head to a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Sparrow was arrested when police were searching the 1000 block of Chesapeake Harbour Drive following reports of a man riding a dirt bike and brandishing a gun. Police say Officer Robert Reese II saw Sparrow come from behind a house driving what looked like a dirt bike and pointed his gun at him, believing him to be the suspect and still armed.
Sparrow alleges the responding officers — Reese, Sgt. Christopher Kintop and Officer Ralph Defalco — then assaulted him during the arrest. Sparrow, who is black, also accuses the three of calling him a racial slur.
Sparrow was not who police were searching for and all charges were dropped while police eventually arrested another man for the incident.
Originally, Sparrow named Kintop and Reese along with the city as defendants in the suit when he first filed in May 2016.
In an amended complaint filed in October 2016, Sparrow now alleges that Defalco also violated his rights.
He alleges Defalco also contributed to his injuries and is seeking upwards of $75,000 from him along with the two other officers. He claims it’s part of a pattern of abuse by the department, which has been sued on similar grounds three times dating back to 2008.
Shortly after the suit was filed, Annapolis police corroborated parts of Sparrow’s account, but ultimately denied any excessive force or the use of any racist language.
In reports released by the department, police confirmed Sparrow was arrested at gunpoint.
However, according to their reports, Reese never threatened to shoot Sparrow, as he alleges in his complaint.
And while Sparrow alleges that Reese then proceeded to knee and kick him while he was handcuffed on the ground awaiting for backup, Reese’s report says the backup arrived before he holstered his weapon.
Reese left the department in August 2016 for a job as a deputy sheriff at the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
The beginning of this case follows another allegation of mistreatment from the police department for their handling of an arrest outside a city bar in March.
A hindering an arrest charge against a Huntingtown man was dropped earlier this month after prosecutors reviewed body camera footage where the arresting officer first said he “didn’t do anything.”
John H. Robinson, who’s representing Ryan Greenstreet, 23, said he’s considering filing a wrongful arrest lawsuit against the department after Greenstreet was sprayed in the face with pepper spray following a fight outside Armadillo’s on March 11.
The arresting officer, Jamal Davis, could be heard expressing reservations about charging Greenstreet, saying he was not directly involved in the fight. Other unidentified officers could then be heard talking to Davis, saying Greenstreet was “causing an officer safety issue” for another responding officer and “just needs to articulate it the right way.”