The Board of Estimates approves the settlement for Yusef Smith.
The Baltimore Board of Estimates recently approved a $ 100,000 settlement to Yusef Smith, who was serving time behind bars on the basis of false statements made by Officer Michael O’Sullivan. The board unanimously voted in favor of the deal but unsuccessfully attempted to revoke O’Sullivan’s pension and billing expenses from him as well, even after O’Sullivan was convicted of perjury. Lawyers for those wrongly accused claim the case constitutes an abuse of power, especially in the world of law enforcement.
Smith was arrested by O’Sullivan in 2018 for being “in close proximity to a gun on the ground”. He was charged with illegal possession of a gun and other criminal offenses. However, there was never any evidence that Smith was the owner of the gun, nor was there any connection to any other gun-related charges on which he had served time. The board’s agenda read: “O’Sullivan made a false statement that he saw Smith throw the gun before he escaped. O’Sullivan repeated this testimony at Smith’s trial and Smith was convicted of the crimes.
Photo by Dmitrij Paskevic on Unsplash
Smith had appealed his conviction and a district court judge did not dismiss him until the district attorney was able to obtain and review the officer’s body cam footage. Smith then sued the city and O’Sullivan on charges of “malicious prosecution and abuse of process”.
Lisa Walden, a city attorney who represents the Baltimore Police Department, said it was difficult for the city to win a civil case, particularly “given the fact that O’Sullivan was convicted of perjury”. She added, “State law provides compensation for local government employees who commit illegal acts in the course of their employment. A separate memorandum of understanding with the police also provides protection. “
O’Sullivan was charged in May 2019 and convicted in October. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison in December of that year. However, the official did not resign until early December 2020 and this is the issue that was brought to the table. The board was considering advocating a change in the law prohibiting them from removing the civil servant’s pension and reclaiming government spending. Democratic City Council President Nick Mosby, also a board member, described the situation as “a gross imbalance of what the government is there for”. He asked, “Right now an officer could injure, maim, steal, kill, as we saw in (Fall Gun Trace Task Force) and still keep his pension?”
“Yes, Mr. President,” replied Walden.
Smith did not appear at the settlement meeting. Responding to the board’s decision on behalf of his client, his attorney, Steve Silverman, said, “This is another example of a relatively recent trend in which Baltimore City is doing the right thing to make amends for citizens harmed by the police. We welcome the mayor and the public prosecutor’s office for resolving this case quickly. “
In total, according to the board of directors’ agenda, Smith served seventy days in jail and $ 50,000 in economic damage. The deal is intended to make up some of his losses.
Baltimore clears a $ 100,000 settlement for a man convicted on a fabricated statement by the city police officer
A Baltimore man convicted of false testimony wins 100,000 payments