Congratulations to all on their promotion

On May 25 at 1 p.m., six Baltimore County police officers will be promoted. The ceremony will take place in the Vista Room at Timonium Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, Timonium 21093.

Chief Terrence B. Sheridan will speak at the ceremony and present the certificates. The oath of office will be administered by the Honorable Julie Ensor, Clerk for Baltimore County. The invocation and benediction will be offered by the Reverend Darron D. McKinney Sr., a police chaplain.

The following is the list of the promoted officers and their new assignments.

  • Sergeant Keith Fruhling is promoted to Lieutenant and is assigned to Precinct 11 Essex.
  • Corporal Thomas Morehouse is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 9 White Marsh.
  • Corporal James Gill is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 11 Essex.
  • Officer Melinda Mori is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 4 Pikesville.
  • Officer Jessica Beale is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 1 Wilkens.
  • Officer Eric Brennan is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 8 Parkvill

Baltimore County police shooting in Parkville area ruled justified

Baltimore County prosecutors have ruled that a police officer was justified in shooting a man in the Parkville area in April, citing evidence including body camera footage.

In a letter Tuesday to the Police Department, Deputy State’s Attorney Robin Coffin wrote that the officer acted “for his own safety.”

The officer, who shot 27-year-old Brandon Smith on April 12, has been identified only by his last name, in keeping with an agreement between the county and the police union.

“Officer Downs clearly identified himself as a Police Officer and demanded that Smith not move and keep his hands visible,” Coffin wrote in the letter, adding that Smith was “clearly going for his handgun.”

“Keep your hands up,” Downs says in the video. “Keep your hands up, boy.”

Smith then turns as he bends down toward the ground.

“Drop the gun!” Downs says before shooting.

In the video, an object that appears to be a gun is visible on the ground near Smith.

Downs, who was hired in 2013, has returned to duty, a police spokeswoman said.

The Police Department launched its $12.5 million body camera program last July. It has gradually given the devices to officers and plans to have body cameras on 1,435 officers by the end of September.

The county’s decision not to publicly release camera footage of police shootings has been criticized by groups including the ACLU of Maryland.

alisonk@baltsun.com

twitter.com/aliknez

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication

Police chief defends withholding of videos

Baltimore County Police Chief Terry Sheridan is defending the decision not to release videos from recent incidents in which county officers have shot suspects.

At a meeting Tuesday in Arbutus with a community relations group for the county’s Wilkens Precinct, Sheridan called the county body-camera initiative a “good program,” but said he supports State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger’s position not to release video until the conclusion of a trial.

County police have shot six people in four separate incidents since January. Two people died in those incidents.

Body cameras captured elements of all the incidents, but police have made the videos public in only one case. Officials have said either that they are still investigating the other shootings or that prosecutors have told them the footage will likely be used as evidence in trials.

Sheridan said not releasing footage helps ensure that potential jurors would not be prejudiced before a trial. He also said he believes some footage has no probative value — meaning it would not prove anything important in a trial.

“We’ve taken the position that if it’s something very graphic [and] it has no probative value, we aren’t going to release that stuff because all that’s going to do is sensationalize it,” he said.

Shellenberger has also said footage that could be used at trial should not be released to the public because of its potential impact on jurors, and that it should not be released before an investigation into a police shooting has been closed.

The department released footage of a January shooting in which an officer fatally shot 59-year-old Kerry Lee Coomer, an Overlea man police said threatened his family and raised a rifle as an officer talked to him. Officials said that footage could be released because the case did not result in charges against a suspect.

In three other incidents, footage has not been released to the public. In March, two officers investigating a store robbery in Woodlawn shot at a vehicle coming toward them, killing Rashad Daquan Opher, 20, and wounding two others.

By Jon Bleiweis

Baltimore Sun reporters Alison Knezevich and Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

Police Foundation 2017 Award Winners

The annual Baltimore County Police Foundation Awards ceremony honored nine sworn officers and four civilians for exceptional performance. The honorees included Officers Justin A. Haines, Brian D. Remmers and Phillip R. Wright who successfully settled a dangerous situation that could have been deadly.

Master of Ceremonies Stan Stovall hosted the awards dinner evening at the Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley (the former Baltimore Hunt Valley Inn), 245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley 21031.

The following personnel received the 2017 Police Foundation Awards.

Valor – Officers Justin A. Haines, Brian D. Remmers and Phillip R. Wright, Precinct 4 Pikesville

On December 23, 2016, the officers responded to a disturbance at an apartment building. The subject was screaming and slamming his door. The subject yelled “time to die” at the officers when they knocked on his door. Within seconds, the subject, armed with a knife, opened the door and confronted Officer Haines. The officers slowly retreated as the man moved forward toward them. When Officer Haines lost his footing, Officer Remmers stepped back and un-holstered his weapon at the same time. The subject moved forward and Officer Remmers shot the man once in the shoulder. The officers kept their position and guns on the subject until it was determined there was no longer a risk.

Crime Prevention – Detective Kenneth Brown and Detective Steve Jackson, Mobile Crisis Team

As experienced detectives with the Mobile Crisis Team, Detectives Brown and Jackson created a training presentation that focused on the aspects related to workplace violence, de-escalation techniques, and responding to an active shooter. The presentation incorporates how to identify potential offenders, how to verbally de-escalate hostile and angry individuals, and how to react in order to increase survival during incidents of violence. In 2016, the detectives gave the presentation to over 2,800 people.

Distinguished Contribution to the Profession – Officer James A. Bylen, Marine Team

Officer Bylen witnessed an uptick in boating fatalities – 16 in the upper Chesapeake Bay region in 2015. Determined not to repeat the situation, Officer Bylen created an event to be held annually in conjunction with National Safe Boater Week. It was his hope that attendees would gain a better appreciation for safe boating operation. Officer Bylen met with community associations, the Baltimore County Marine Trades Association, the local civic council and the Back River Restoration Committee. With the cooperation of the U.S Coast Guard, the Department of Natural Resources, the Baltimore County Fire Department and the Baltimore County Volunteer Fire Rescue, the Annual “Sergeant Marvin T. Haw IV Safety Day” was begun.

The result of Officer Bylen’s efforts were evident in 2016. The number of drownings dropped from 16 in 2015 to six in 2016.

Exceptional Performance – Officer Jefferson F. Schaub Jr., DUI Task Force

Officer Schaub set out to apprehend 100 DUI offenders in 2016. His dedication to making the roads safer showed in the numbers. Officer Schaub conducted 37 Intoximeter Tests, and eight Drug Recognition evaluations; these tests take an average of 1-4 hours to administer. In addition, he made 557 traffic stops, issued 983 warnings, and 37 Safety Equipment Repair Orders. His tireless efforts have kept the roads safer for those driving in Baltimore County.

Exceptional Group Performance – Digital and Multimedia Evidence Unit

Ashley Hofmann, Gregory J. Klein, Christopher G. Kollmann and Dana McAlister

This unit uses a high-tech, cutting edge approach to recover, preserve and examine digital evidence. Data recovered from mobile devices and computers, and surveillance video extracted and enhanced from crime scenes and surrounding businesses provide invaluable leads that support investigations and solve crimes.

Community Service – Officer Darryl A. Hunter Sr., School Resource Officer (SRO) in Precinct 11 Essex

As SRO, mentor, teacher and guide at Chesapeake High School for 14 years, Officer Hunter has helped students find their way through tough times. When he started at the school, he met with everyone – principals, teachers and students – and has maintained a strong presence since then. His leadership and straight talk helped students who would cross the line and would discipline them as the law allows. However, the best testament to his work with young people can be counted by those who have succeeded. Several students have attended the Youth Leadership Academy, four became volunteer police explorers, three became cadets, one is in training at the academy and two are current police officers. As a coach at Chesapeake High School, Officer Hunter led the 2016 girls’ basketball team and the football team to championships.

Rookie of the Year – Officer James A. Koscielski III, Precinct 2 Woodlawn

In 2016 Officer Koscielski became a patrol officer at Precinct 2. Officer Koscielski is self-motivated and proactive. His determination led him to excel during his shift. So much so, he led the shift in enforcement and was given a permanent patrol car. The officer cleared hundreds of case and cleared 104 serious traffic cases.

During 2016, he seized about $3,000 in currency related to drug sales and seized four guns during one investigation.

His leadership skills have made him a valuable part of the department.

Congratulations to all on their promotion!

On April 10 at 1 p.m., 18 Baltimore County police officers will be promoted. The ceremony will take place at Loch Raven High School, 1212 Cowpens Avenue, Towson, Md. 21286.

Chief Terrence B. Sheridan will speak at the ceremony and present the certificates. The oath of office will be administered by the Honorable Julie Ensor, Clerk for Baltimore County. The invocation and benediction will be offered the Reverend Herbert Watson Jr., a police chaplain.

The following is the list of the promoted officers and their new assignments.

  • Sergeant Matthew T. Jackson is promoted to Lieutenant and is assigned to the Operations Bureau.
  • Sergeant John M. Keeney is promoted to Lieutenant and is assigned to Precinct 2/Woodlawn.
  • Sergeant Christopher P. Morgan is promoted to Lieutenant and is assigned to the Operations Bureau
  • Corporal Steven M.Ellingsworth is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 11/Essex.
  • Corporal Sundia Gaynor is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 1/Wilkens.
  • Corporal Doug C.Jess is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 2/Woodlawn.
  • Corporal Robert Vicosa is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 12/Dundalk.
  • Corporal Robert M.Walsh is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 1/Wilkens.
  • Corporal Matthew W. Wilking is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 12/Dundalk.
  • Corporal Kyle J.Woodward is promoted to Sergeant and is assigned to Precinct 4/Pikesville.
  • Officer Joseph Barresi is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 11/Essex.
  • Officer Christopher D.Cullip is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 7/Cockeysville.
  • Officer Greg A.Czajkowski is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to the Operations Bureau.
  • Officer Pearin D. Holt II is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 6/Towson.
  • Officer Gregory N. Huber is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 1/Wilkens.
  • Officer Bruce W. Kindervater Jr. is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 11/Essex.
  • Officer Michael A. Lyon is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 8/Parkville.
  • Officer Michael B. Salamone is promoted to Corporal and is assigned to Precinct 4/Pikesville.

Income Tax Subtraction Modification – Retirement Income of Law Enforcement

The Senate voted 47-0 in favor of HB100 – $15,000 Income Tax Subtraction Modification – Retirement Income of Law Enforcement, Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services Personnel.

It now awaits the Governor’s signature. This has been a long hard fight for years. Their are too many to thank personally. On behalf of the men and women of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police we thank you all!!!!

Arbitration Decision for July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018

On Monday March 13, 2017 the County and the FOP had a hearing in front of a neutral arbitrator to resolve a contract disagreement over a proposed wage increase to be effective July 1, 2017 -June 30, 2018. The County’s offer was a 2% wage increase. The FOP was seeking a salary reclassification which consisted of an upgrade of 1 salary grade which is essentially a 4% wage increase. The arbitrator ruled for the County’s proposal. The decision is below.

Arbitration Decision

Baltimore County must pay former worker $780,000 for violating disability law, jury decides

Baltimore County must pay more than $780,000 to a former longtime county sanitarian who said she was forced into retirement when supervisors refused to accommodate her disability, a federal jury decided.

Dianne Van Rossum sued the county for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, saying she was not allowed to move to another office when she had a severe reaction to chemical odors emanating from new paint and carpeting in the Jefferson Building, a county office space in Towson.

The jury returned the verdict this week in U.S. District Court. It awarded $530,053 for economic damages and $250,000 for pain and suffering.

“I hope this case just sends a message,” said Van Rossum, who worked for the county’s environmental department from 1980 to 2010. “The jury obviously agreed that my rights were violated.”The county plans to appeal the verdict, a spokeswoman said

The case isn’t the first time Baltimore County has been challenged over its treatment of workers with medical problems. In 2012, the county agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice over workplace discrimination issues related to people’s medical conditions.

For much of her career with the county, Van Rossum worked as a food plans review specialist, evaluating architectural plans for restaurants and inspecting the eateries before they opened.

According to her lawsuit, Van Rossum developed an illness from mold and harmful chemicals in the county courthouse. She experienced episodes of dizziness, headaches and joint pain, fatigue, stomach upset, and weakness in her limbs.

In the summer of 2009, her department was relocated to the fourth floor of Jefferson Building on Chesapeake Avenue. The building had been renovated, and the move made her symptoms worse.

Van Rossum asked to move to another floor of the building, a request she at first was granted. But the following year, Van Rossum said, a manager said she had to return to the fourth floor. She was re-assigned to the position of field inspector and, eventually, a manager said she had to work on the fourth floor or face discipline.

In April 2010, she was “forced into early retirement,” Van Rossum claimed in the lawsuit. She was three months shy of qualifying for a full county pension.

At work, Van Rossum received positive performance reviews, the lawsuit states.

“I felt like there was no one within Baltimore County that I could turn to after being a good and loyal employee,” said Van Rossum, 61, who now lives in South Carolina. “Baltimore County really needs to maintain their buildings and provide a healthy environment for their employees.”

Matthew K. Handley, director of litigation for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, said Van Rossum’s request to change offices was “very modest.”

“I think this is something [the county] could have avoided very early if they had accommodated her,” Handley said. “It will hopefully send a message to employers that accommodating people with disabilities is not only the law, but good business.”

The lawyers’ committee, which was part of Van Rossum’s legal team, represents people in civil rights cases dealing with employment, housing, public and accommodations.

This past July, another former county worker won a $400,000 verdict in a disability-discrimination case against the county. In that case, a laborer with the county highways department said he sprained his back in 2010 while shoveling asphalt. The worker said that after he recovered from the injury and returned to work, the county fired him after he could still do his job.

In the 2012 settlement, the federal government alleged that 10 employees and job applicants in the police and fire departments were required to have inappropriate and intrusive medical exams or were subjected to other forms of disability discrimination. The suit also alleged the county refused to hire two qualified applicants for EMT positions because they had diabetes.

An employer violates the Americans with Disabilities Act if it requires workers to undergo exams unrelated to their job duties.

alisonk@baltsun.com

twitter.com/aliknez

Beginning January 1, 2016, “law enforcement officers” can claim an income tax subtraction modification for the first $5,000 of income earned if:

The section below is taken directly from the Maryland State Comptroller Website

Frequently Asked Questions About Income Tax http://taxes.marylandtaxes.com/Individual_Taxes/Individual_Tax_Types/Income_Tax/Tax_Information/Frequently_Asked_Questions/Income_Tax_FAQs/q30.shtml

30.  Who may claim the law enforcement subtraction modification?

Beginning January 1, 2016, “law enforcement officers” can claim an income tax subtraction modification for the first $5,000 of income earned if:

(1) The law enforcement officer resides and works in the same political subdivision; and
(2) The crime rate in the political subdivision exceeds the State’s crime rate.

A “law enforcement officer” is an individual who is authorized in his or her official capacity to make arrests and is a member of a law enforcement agency, including officers serving under a probationary status or at the pleasure of the appointing authority of a county or municipal corporation.  Federal law enforcement officers do not qualify for the subtraction modification.

A list of the political subdivisions that have crime rates exceeding the State’s crime rate is provided to the Comptroller’s Office by the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission.  You can review whether your political subdivision exceeds the State’s crime rate here.

A law enforcement officer may claim the subtraction, if applicable, by reporting it on Form 502 and Form 502SU. The code is 00 (zero/zero).

 

In the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly HB1016  the Public Safety and Policing Workgroup bill was passed.  The bill contained a section (page 35) that allows for a subtraction of the first $5,000 of earned income by a law enforcement officer who resides in the political subdivision in which the law enforcement officer is employed and the crime rate in the political subdivision exceeds the state’s crime rate.

As always please consult your tax adviser for professional advice. This is provided as information only.

Man Who Threatened Family Members with Gun Killed in Police-Involved Shooting

A man who threatened family members with a gun was shot last night by police in Precinct 9/White Marsh when he reached for a powerful scoped rifle as they tried to de-escalate the crisis.

The suspect is Kerry Lee Coomer, 59, of the unit block of Greenwood Ave., 21206 – the same address where last night’s incident took place.

Patrol officers were dispatched to the unit block of Greenwood Avenue at 10:43 p.m. for a report of a suicidal subject with a gun. Coomer’s estranged wife, who lives nearby, told police he had been arguing with her throughout the day and was verbally and visibly suicidal; he said he wanted to die, and he pointed the gun – a .30-.30 scoped rifle – at himself.

Coomer threatened the estranged wife and another family member.  At some point, he pointed the rifle at one of them, and that is when the estranged wife called police.

Coomer came onto the porch when patrol responded, and one officer began to talk to him in an effort to calm him and de-escalate the situation. A second officer provided cover. The first officer provided clear verbal commands for the suspect to put up his hands and come off the porch. The suspect refused.

As the first officer continued to verbally engage the suspect, he suddenly reached for the rifle and brought it up. The officer turned and ran for his life. The cover officer fired two shots. Both hit the suspect in the upper body.

Baltimore County Fire Department medic crews were called immediately. The suspect was declared dead at the scene.

The Homicide Unit’s investigation is ongoing. The Homicide Unit investigates all police involved shootings. After the investigation is complete, the incident will be reviewed by the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The officer involved in the shooting will be placed on administrative status while the incident is reviewed.

Body camera footage from the officer who communicated with the suspect and fled for his life is part of the investigation. The officer who fired the shots was not equipped with a body camera.

BCoPD’s body camera program began last July and is expected to be fully deployed by September 30, 2017.

A Snapshot of Policing in Baltimore County

Over the past couple of years’ law enforcement agencies across the country have faced intense public scrutiny about officer conduct and the use of force by officers on the citizens they serve.  Recent events both nationally and local have gained widespread attention on both traditional and social media. This has created this firestorm of rhetoric that police officers in America are out of control, running rampant throughout the community, with no regard for citizen rights and no mechanism to discipline officers for misconduct.  As you can see from the statistics below, this is simply not accurate for the members of the Baltimore County Police Department.

 

Year County Population Calls for Service Assaults on Officers Arrests Uses of Force Citizen Complaints
2010 805,029 604,706 957 33,898 329 128
2011 805,029 576,017 955 29,959 354 109
2012 817,455 585,112 798 29,439 377 126
2013 817,455 580,416 692 27,982 318 124
2014 824,000 572,289 659 26,989 305 89
2015 824,000 582,894 660 25,651 300 85

 

County Population

The county population has steadily grown since 2010 with an increase of approximately 19,000 (2%) over the next five (5) years. Demographics available on the county website showed that in 2010 the population was 64% white, 26% African American, 4% Hispanic, 6% other.

Calls for Service
The number of calls for service shown includes all calls to 911, non-emergency calls and traffic stops. This does not take into account the numerous undocumented interactions with citizens that officers have every day.

Calls for service for the time period shown have shown a steady decline. The average number of calls for service was 583,572.  Every year since 2013 has been under the average.

Arrests

In Baltimore County between 2010 and 2015 there were a total of 173,918 arrests made.  That equates to an average of 28,986 arrests per year in a county where the population has grown to 824,000. Every year since 2011 has been under the average. The number of arrests has consistently trended downward since 2010 (24%) while the population has steadily grown.

Uses of Force by Officers

In the Baltimore County Police Department, a “use of force” report must be completed when an officer uses force involving Department issued equipment, personal equipment, an instrument of necessity (excluding firearms) and/or when injuries (visible or non-visible) have occurred to an individual that indicate medical treatment may be necessary.

In the six years indicated above, Baltimore County officers used force (excluding firearms) a total of 1,983 times.  From 2012-2015 there has been a 20% decrease in uses of force by officers.  Additionally, the statistics show that force was only used in 00.056633% of all calls for service and 01.14% in all arrests.

Internal Affairs statistics show that officers were involved in combat shootings 37 times during the same time period averaging about 6.1 per year.  This equates to the use of a firearm in 00.00123% of all calls for service and in 00.02127% of all arrests.

Assaults on Officers

During the 6-year time period officers reported being assaulted 4,721 times averaging 786.8 assaults per year. (There has been 1 line of duty death) While assaults on officers have been trending downward (32%), the numbers show that officers in Baltimore County are 2.3 times more likely to be assaulted by a citizen than use force against a citizen.

Citizen Complaints
According to the Internal Affairs Section in the Baltimore County Police Department there were 661 complaints from citizens about officer misconduct, including uses of force.  That equates to an average of 110 per year and has also been steadily trending downward (33.5%). Over the entire time period there was an average of 1 citizen complaint for every 5,297 calls for service. The best year was 2015 with 1 citizen complaint for every 6,857 calls for service.

Administrative Complaints

An Administrative complaint is defined as a complaint filed by members internally within the police department.  According to the Internal Affairs Section in the Baltimore County Police Department there were 579 complaints initiated from within the department from 2010-2015.  That equates to an average of 96.5 per year and 46.6% of all Internal Affairs investigations.

Closing

The style and manner of policing is constantly evolving. Moving forward with the challenges in policing, law enforcement is adapting a style of policing that encourages community partnership. We must still focus on crime because there will always be incidents that need to be investigated and violent criminals that need to be arrested. But we need to do both and we need to do them better and together.

There is a very select group of citizens in a part of Maryland that has a mistrust of their police department and that is unfortunate.  That is certainly not the case in Baltimore County.  We enjoy an excellent working relationship with the community we serve.

David Rose
Second Vice President
Baltimore County
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4

Form 1099R Error for 2013 Tax Year

This correspondence is directed specifically to any retirees who have recently received IRS notices regarding their 2013 tax filings and the “Pension Exclusion” which is currently explained in section 13 of the Maryland 2016 State and local tax forms and instruction booklet.

Apparently the electronic filing by Baltimore County for 2013 was in error.  The 1099-R received by our members reflected the proper numbers.  As a result of our inquires, Baltimore County is currently drafting a letter to all affected members.  Additionally, the Comptroller’s Office has put out the following directive to Tax Preparers in the State of Maryland.

Comptroller’s Office Notice
MSATP was informed by the Comptroller’s Office that approximately 500 notices were mailed to taxpayers who received Baltimore County Pension (1099R) in 2013.  Apparently, the paper copy and the information that was transmitted electronically to the State of MD was different.  The 1099R your client received is correct.  If your client receives a notice on this issue, please prepare a brief letter to the Comptroller with a copy of the 1099R.

Donor to Pugh campaign charged with making unlawful loan

Prosecutors are accusing a political slate funded by former Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. of making an unlawful loan to Mayor Catherine Pugh before the Democratic primary last year — the second action prosecutors have taken this month against donors to Pugh’s campaign.

An investigator with the Office of the State Prosecutor has filed a $3,000 fine in Anne Arundel County District Court, charging the Baltimore County Victory Slate with “unlawfully making an impermissible expenditure of a $100,000 loan to the Catherine Pugh committee, as Pugh is not a member of the slate.”

In the final days of Pugh’s effort to defeat rival Sheila Dixon in the April primary, her campaign received $315,000 in loans, including $100,000 from the Baltimore County Victory Slate.

Groups of candidates form slates in order to share campaign donations free from many of the restrictions that limit donations to individual candidates.

Prosecutors say Pugh was not entitled to receive the April 20 loan from the Baltimore County Victory Slate because she had not joined it. She has since joined the slate and repaid the loan.

The slate is funded from Smith’s campaign account. Smith now works as Pugh’s chief of strategic alliances for a $175,000 salary.

Keith Timmons, the treasurer of Pugh’s campaign, said campaign officials “recently learned” of the prosecutor’s actions.

“We regret the clear and obvious misunderstanding which led to the prosecutor’s action against the Baltimore County political organization,” Timmons said in a statement. “The loan was listed on all appropriate finance and campaign reports and has since been repaid.”

Pugh and Smith are both Democrats. Neither responded Monday to requests for comment.

Donald F. Norris, director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said it was not clear whether the case would be problematic for Pugh. He said Smith, a former judge and state transportation secretary, has a reputation for being an “extremely honorable and a decent guy.”

Smith used the Baltimore County Victory Slate in 2010 to transfer more than $400,000 to Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger’s campaign account. Shellenberger is a member of the slate.

Prosecutors announced an indictment this month against a longtime Pugh aide on charges he violated campaign finance laws during the primary.

Prosecutors say Gary Brown Jr. funneled $18,000 through his family to the Pugh campaign. The maximum amount an individual can give to a candidate during a campaign cycle under Maryland law is $6,000.

Prosecutors say Brown deposited cash into the bank accounts of his mother, stepfather and brother before the primary and then immediately contributed that money to the Pugh campaign in their names.

Pugh has said Brown, a legislative aide to Pugh in the state Senate and later her campaign spokesman, is “innocent unless proven otherwise.”

She has said he will continue to work in her mayoral communications office, where he is paid $46,000 annually.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said it was “unknown” how Brown got the $18,000. He said the investigation is continuing.

Brown declined to comment. He was selected last month to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates, but his swearing-in was called off after the indictment.

Former City Councilman Nick J. Mosby has been selected to replace him.

Damon Effingham, policy manager at the government watchdog group Common Cause Maryland, noted that both cases involve people who gave financial support to the campaign landing jobs with Pugh’s administration.

“It’s disappointing there is a second example in the beginning of her administration,” Effingham said. “It has the appearance that people are getting benefits from their donations.”

Even so, Effingham said, “there could be legitimate reasons for why these things happened.”

“She has to be accountable to the people who elected her,” he said. “She owes them an explanation for these instances.”

Sean Yoes, host of “First Edition” on WEAA radio, agreed.

“To start off with two controversial issues connected to money within the first month of her tenure as mayor is concerning,” he said. “I would be looking for a substantial explanation and a lot of transparency about both these situations.”

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lukebroadwater

 

Death Notification: Pfc. Stephen Matthews

The lodge regrets the passing of Pfc. Stephen Matthews. Bro. Matthews was still an active member of the department for 30+ years at the time of his passing. He worked most of his career in the Towson precinct and the Technology and Communication section. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to his family.

Below is the Memorial Service information:

Date: Friday January 27, 2017
Time:  1000 hours
Location: Towson United Methodist Church, 501 Hampton Lane Towson, MD 21286

Death of Middle River man Tawon Boyd after police confrontation ruled accidental

The death of a Middle River man days after an encounter with Baltimore County police and fire personnel in September has been ruled accidental.

Tawon Boyd, 21, called 911 for help on Sept. 18 and ended up in a physical struggle with police officers.

He died at a hospital three days later, and his family has questioned how first responders handled the situation.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Boyd’s death was likely caused by drugs. Boyd died Sept. 21 after suffering multiple organ failure, examiners wrote in an autopsy report.

“It is unlikely that restraint by law enforcement caused or significantly contributed to his death based on the reported circumstances and timeline of the restraint,” examiners wrote. “Since his death most likely followed from complications of intoxication with a drug (N-Ethylpentylone), the manner of death is best certified as accident.”

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration classifies N-Ethylpentylone as a type of synthetic cathinone. Synthetic cathinones, commonly referred to as “bath salts,” are unregulated, mind-altering substances, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner issued the ruling this month, spokesman Bruce Goldfarb said.

County police and fire officials declined to comment Wednesday.

Baltimore attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who is representing Boyd’s family, said questions remain about the medical care provided by emergency personnel. He said he plans to have an independent expert review Boyd’s autopsy report and  hospital records.York, Pa. man charged in three separate Baltimore killingsCourt officials considered contempt for 'Serial' producers for airing courtroom audio

“We think that there’s obviously something wrong here, beyond question, that somebody that calls to reach out for help ends up dead,” Pettit said.

Pettit said witnesses described Boyd as suffering “some kind of emotional or psychotic episode.”

Officers called to Boyd’s home on Akin Circle about 3 a.m. Sept. 18 said they found him sweating heavily and appearing confused and paranoid. His girlfriend said he had been drinking and smoking marijuana and was acting “crazy.”

When officers tried to talk to Boyd, they said in a police report, he began screaming and tried to get into police cars. He yelled, “Help, call the police!”

Officers said Boyd did not comply with their orders. They forced Boyd to the ground and restrained him.

One officer punched him twice in the face as Boyd held onto him, police said. Officers called medics to the home.

Medical examiners said the emergency workers believed Boyd was in an “excited delirium state” and administered the antipsychotic medication Haldol.

Boyd calmed down, but then went into cardiac arrest, examiners said. He was revived by cardiopulmonary resuscitation and taken to the hospital.

Scans of Boyd’s head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis did not show any fractures, examiners said.

“[Boyd’s] presentation in an excited delirium-like state with subsequent cardiac arrest likely developed as a consequence of intoxication with N- Ethylpentylone,” examiners wrote.

No officers were wearing body cameras during the encounter, police have said.

alisonk@baltsun.com

twitter.com/aliknez

Copyright © 2016, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication