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Pr. George's settles police brutality lawsuit

A civil lawsuit alleging that a Prince George's County police officer beat a young man outside a nightclub without provocation and then collaborated with another officer to falsely charge the man was settled Monday afternoon after attorneys for both sides delivered opening arguments in Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro.

The civil trial in the lawsuit, filed by Robert L. Scott Jr., 22, was just getting going when Scott decided to accept a $100,000 settlement offer from the county.

"I'm satisfied with the settlement because my client is happy," said Terrell N. Roberts III, the Riverdale attorney who represented Scott. "He feels he was justly compensated for the wrong that was done to him."

Scott was assaulted by county police Cpl. Kenneth Goodwin outside the Crossroads nightclub in Bladensburg shortly after 1 a.m. on Dec. 27, 2007, according to the lawsuit.
Scott, of the District, had gone to the nightspot with friends from high school.

Scott, who was 20 at the time, did not drink during the evening, Roberts said, adding that Scott does not drink at all.

When Scott walked to the car of a friend who was going to drive him home, the lawsuit said, Goodwin, dressed in his police uniform, ordered Scott to get into the car. Scott replied that he was waiting for his friend to open the car's doors. The friend arrived and opened the doors, and Scott saw another friend nearby and stepped to him to shake hands before returning to the car, the lawsuit alleged.

Goodwin suddenly hit Scott in the back of the head with his metal police baton, the lawsuit alleged. Scott staggered forward and turned to see Goodwin, who pushed his face, extended the baton and swung it at Scott's face, the lawsuit alleged.
Scott raised his left arm, which absorbed the baton blow. The force of the blow fractured a bone in Scott's forearm, according to the lawsuit.

Goodwin and Larry Hawkins, who at the time was a Bladensburg police officer, conspired to falsely charge Scott with two counts of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, the lawsuit said. Hawkins also persuaded Scott to decline medical attention, telling him it would prolong his detention, according to the lawsuit.

Scott was scheduled to go to trial on those charges in June 2008. County prosecutors dropped all charges when neither Goodwin nor Hawkins showed up for the trial, Roberts said.

William Chen, a private attorney contracted to represent the county in the lawsuit, said in his opening statement that the county was not liable because Goodwin was moonlighting as a security officer at the time of the incident and was not acting as a police officer.

Chen declined to comment on the settlement.

Hawkins left the Bladensburg police force in February 2008. Dan Karp, the attorney who represented Hawkins in the civil lawsuit, said Hawkins was a probationary officer at the time of the incident and that his leaving the police department had nothing to do with Scott's allegations.

Goodwin, who joined the police force in 1992 and is assigned to the pawn unit, did not respond to a request for comment submitted through the president of the police union.

During the past decade, Roberts has won more than $9 million in jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients who alleged they were brutalized or otherwise mistreated by county police.

-- Ruben Castaneda

By Ruben Castaneda  |  March 10, 2010; 5:30 AM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda  
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Comments

I used to be a staunch supporter of the police... that what they said/did was the correct/legal/action...

not so anymore...

way too many videos clearly displaying cops gone wild... clearly overstepping their authority...

looks like PG county has some issues with their cops .. they feel they can do/order people around as they feel.. and if the civilian don't comply to the cops desires... the cop wacks them with his baton....

I think cops need to be significantly reigned-in ... there are way too many documanted cases of cops overstepping their authority...

Posted by: kglkgl06 | March 10, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Why are the current PG cop and former Blade cop charged for their crimes. Oh, Glen Ivey, Pg State's Attorney and Jolene Ivey, 47th Legislature Delegate again ignore the people of that mostly black and low-income district.
Dude Scott, if you lived in Cheverly, you would have received a lot more attention and money, but enjoy your $100K and stay out of this county casue trust me that cop got your number.

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | March 10, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

First off, who edits this stuff??

"Scott staggered forward and turned to see Goodwin, who pushed his face, extended the baton and swung it at Goodwin's face, the lawsuit alleged" ... So the cop swung the baton at his own face?!?!

"Hawkins also persuaded Scott to decline medical attention, telling him it would prolong his attention" .. prolong his attention? ... maybe they were looking for "detention"?!

Second, it sounds like PGC got off cheap with this one ... surprised he settled for such a small amount.

Posted by: Mike40 | March 10, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

if there was any real justice in PG, the off duty cop acting as private security would have been brought up on charges - assault with a deadly weapon.

Looks like the badge in PG puts cops above the law.

Posted by: rtreff | March 10, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of generalizing...

COPS LIE!!!!

Posted by: BurtReynolds1 | March 10, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Is Cheverly rich? isn't cheverly right up the road. the deal is the kid could have got more moeny but PG would have dragged the case out for years. glad he was smart enought to sue the county.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 10, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The only thing new here is that there was a payoff instead of a total coverup by the police.

Getting beaten by the P.G. cops was a rite of passage. Not IF but WHEN.

Yep, the P.G. cops broke my back for "Resisting Arrest". 'Resisting was saying "Could I get your name please Officer?"
P.G. Internal Affairs NEVER actually investigates and ALWAYS exonerates the officer.

Oh by the way, I'm a 'Lily White' conservative.
My Black friends fared worse than me. They were beaten pretty well (Including their feet) and a couple had their skulls cracked.

Posted by: Etek | March 10, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

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