by Van Smith
Published in City Paper, Aug. 12, 2014
Baltimore media erupted with coverage of a police-involved shooting in West Baltimore on April 22, 2013 that left one man dead and two injured. The two men who survived the cops’ barrage of bullets—23-year-olds Guy Jackson and Rickey Dixon—are charged in an attempted-murder conspiracy involving firearms and a stolen vehicle, and are scheduled to go to trial in September. But Jackson has already won a victory of sorts: He had sued the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) and several officers over the incident and subsequent events, and a federal judge recently ruled against BPD, saying some of Jackson’s claims can move forward.
While senior U.S. District judge William Nickerson dismissed counts arising from the police shooting Jackson, he allowed claims involving a homicide detective’s allegedly unconstitutional seizure of Jackson from Maryland Shock Trauma, where he was recovering from multiple bullet wounds. The detective, Julian Min, allegedly told Shock Trauma doctors that he was taking Jackson to the Baltimore City Jail’s medical facility—despite their advice not to do so—but instead took the patient to police headquarters to interrogate him, and then put him out on the streets. Jackson, with a bullet hole in his face and a feeding tube protruding from stomach, was wearing a hospital gown, and family members eventually returned him to medical care.
Although Jackson’s “claim is perhaps an unusual factual scenario,” Nickerson wrote in his ruling, “there is no question that Plaintiff was seized,” and Jackson “adequately pleaded that the seizure was unreasonable under the circumstances, particularly considering the alleged deception used by Detective Min and the medical concerns of Plaintiff’s doctors at Shock Trauma.”
On Aug. 6, Nickerson ordered that Jackson’s claims against Min be litigated first and separately from those against the BPD, which Jackson seeks to hold liable as Min’s supervisor. The surviving counts seek $1 million from Min and the BPD.
Michael Marshall and Chaz Romero Ball, who represent Min, and Dorrell Brooks, who represents the BPD, did not respond to City Paper’s effort to reach them for comment, but Jackson’s civil attorney, Joshua Insley, spoke openly about the matter.
“What they did,” Insley says, “is patently illegal. Under false pretenses they deprived Jackson of medical care and interrogated him because they wanted information about a third party, under color of legal authority. I use the word ‘torture’ to describe what was done because, we think, this meets the United Nations’ and the federal government’s definition of torture.”
The circumstances leading up to Jackson’s treatment at Shock Trauma are described in the lawsuit and reiterated in Nickerson’s ruling. Jackson claims that he was on Winchester Street in West Baltimore when he was approached by two men, Larry Hooker and Rickey Dixon, who “brandished handguns” and ordered him to get into a car with them and “drive the vehicle” to North Dukeland Street and Edmondson Avenue, according to the ruling. Once there, Hooker and Dixon ordered Jackson to stay in the car “while they exited and confronted two unknown individuals outside,” and “shots were fired.” Then, as Hooker and Dixon started to get back in the car, BPD officers Lester Manuyag and Alejandro Pena arrived and “began discharging their weapons” into the car, striking Jackson “in the arms, body, and head.” The police shooting also resulted in injuries to Dixon and the death of Hooker, according to media accounts of the incident.
Insley says Jackson “is not a gangster, he’s just a regular kid from the ghetto” who was “walking through an alley, when he’s accosted by two men who he knows by reputation—they are gangsters—in a stolen car, and they pull out guns and order him to drive.” After the shooting and before Min’s hospital visit, law enforcers “realized that Mr. Jackson was pressed into service,” Insley asserts, and so they wanted to talk to him. But Jacksons’ “mouth is wired shut,” Insley continues, so the interrogation involved Jackson having to write down his responses to questions, and the police “humiliated him, they were laughing at him.” Prosecutors, Insley says, told him they are “not going to use those statements” obtained from the interrogation, and “they didn’t want to nail Guy Jackson,” but instead “are trying to get him to be a witness” against Dixon.
Jackson’s criminal attorney, Granville Templeton, says his client “is still incarcerated and charged with a crime that I think the state’s attorney knows he did not commit. They know he didn’t shoot anybody. And there are no victims—there are ‘John Doe’ victims in this case, who have not come forth.” He adds that Jackson, when he was shot by the officers, “thought he was going to die, and now he’s charged. It’s just a terrible situation. I want the charges dropped, and if not, we’re going to get a not-guilty [verdict] before a jury.”
Min has not been disciplined as a result of his alleged handling of Jackson, says Insley, and online court records show that Min continues to be involved in the prosecution of numerous ongoing criminal cases, including murder charges. This prompts Insley to emphasize the BPD’s culpability in Min’s alleged misconduct: “They know what he does and they condone what he does,” he says, “because actions speak louder than words. This is at least the second time Min’s gone rogue on them, and they allow it.” The first time—a young man was detained for seven months on false attempted-murder charges, partly based on Min’s word—resulted in a lawsuit that the city settled for $150,000 about a month before Min’s alleged dealings with Jackson, according to an article in the Baltimore Brew about the city approving funds for paying out the settlement.
Nickerson set a schedule for litigating the case against Min, with pretrial motions due by Jan. 20, without setting a trial date.