CP contributor taken on 'rough ride' by police will receive $95K settlement

City Paper contributing photographer Christine Abbott, who was taken on a "rough ride" in the back of a police van in June 2012, will receive a settlement of $95,000, according to a report in the Baltimore Brew.

In September 2014, reporter Van Smith wrote a cover story looking at a number of financial settlements resulting from police misconduct. It detailed Abbott's lawsuit, in which she claimed: "the officers 'grabbed' her and 'threw her to the ground,' causing her 'dress to go up over her back, revealing her underwear' and her shoulder to be 'cut and bleeding.' When the officers stood her up, her 'dress was ripped' and her 'breasts were exposed,' yet they 'refused to allow' Abbott to 'pull up her dress or otherwise conceal her breasts.' They then handcuffed her and put her in a police transport van, but 'did not strap or harness her in the back' of the van, which they 'maniacally drove' to the police station, 'thereby tossing' Abbott 'around the interior of the van,' causing 'further injuries.'"

As the story recounts, her suit also claimed: "BPD officers Lee Grishkot and Todd Edick arrived at a party in Hampden in June 2012, responding to a noise complaint, [when] they talked with Jacob Masters Jr. and asked him to put out his cigarette. When Masters refused, they threatened to use a stun gun on him, at which point Abbott intervened, asking the officers and Masters to 'calm down' and suggesting there was 'no need' to make such threats."

In a separate story last April, following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Abbott told City Paper, "I was sliding all over the back of the van, banging into the walls because I didn’t have any way to brace myself since my hands were behind my back."

Reached by email today, Abbott writes the settlement agreement bars her from commenting now, as is routine in these settlements. The city also denies wrongdoing. 

The so-called "rough ride," which the van driver reportedly denied, is not mentioned in the version of events accompanying the settlement offer in the Board Of Estimates agenda. It says that on June 2, 2012, officers Scott Dickson and Edick went to the house on the 3800 block of Falls Road on a noise complaint. When Edick told the man there that he was going to issue a noise citation, "that individual became very upset."

The cop told the man—Jake Masters, who is now Abbott's husband but was not a party to the lawsuit—to put out his cigarette; Masters refused, and a "verbal dispute arose between the two and when the individual stepped off the porch and approached the officers on the scene, Officer Edick withdrew his Taser. At that moment, the Plaintiff attempted to prevent Officer Edick from tasing the male individual who she indicated as her then boyfriend."

The narrative says Abbott tried to intervene again when another officer, Grishkot, moved to arrest Masters. "Grishkot contends that at that point he took the Plaintiff to the ground and placed her under arrest. During the altercation with Defendant Grishkot, the Plaintiffs dress became ripped exposing her breast as she was stood up by the officer. The Plaintiff claims that Officer Grishkot refused to allow her to pull up her dress and also refused to call a female officer to assist with her dress. As a result of injuries sustained during her arrest, the Plaintiff was transported to the hospital for treatment."

The story tracks what Masters and the other man arrested that day, Pat Hoey, told City Paper. But it omits the van ride. Freddie Gray's death, settled last month for $6.4 million, turned on the "rough ride" that allegedly left Gray's spine partially severed and resulted in his death. 

The Sun asked Comptroller Joan Pratt about the summary, who told the paper that she knew about the "rough ride" allegation in the case. "I was told that was not the basis of the settlement," Pratt told The Sun. 

"I'm pretty happy about it, for her sake," Masters says by phone. "I'm just glad that’s over for her, and she's moving on now."

The Brew reports the Board of Estimates will also pay $125,000 to Dameatrice Moore, a bystander who was shot by police when an offer scuffled with a man in January 2013.

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