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Civil lawsuit filed against criminally indicted BPD Sergeant

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Posted at 3:16 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 15:27:46-04

BALTIMORE — A police sergeant already facing a 32 count criminal indictment is now being sued civilly.

Renowned Baltimore attorney William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr. on Thursday announced a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department and Ethan Newberg.

Murphy is representing Lee Dotson and Charles Kuniken, who accuse Newberg of illegally arresting them more than two-years ago.

Dotson's encounter with Newberg occurred May 30, 2019.

Newberg was arresting another man on Ashton Street in Southwest Baltimore, when Dotson walked by and criticized him for making the man sit on a wet curb.

The entire incident was caught on officer body-worn camera.

“He is under arrest,” Newberg yelled at other officers, “For what? For what? What am I under arrest for?” Dotson asks, “Just go to jail and take your charge like a man…Take your charge!” Newberg fired back.

About a week later, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced that Newberg had been suspended and criminally charged over the incident.

That led the City State's Attorney's Office to take a deep dive into past encounters Newberg had with other citizens.

Newberg was charged with nearly three dozen new charges after investigators uncovered eight similar arrests he had made within a year of the Dotson incident.

“What might otherwise appear to be isolated incidents dating back to 2018 turned out to be numerous examples of a consistent pattern and practice of knowing, intentional and unlawful harassment, intimidation, detention, assault, domination and coercive and illegal tactics that were employed against law-abiding citizens of Baltimore City with the intent to instill fear,” State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said at the time.

RELATED: BPD Sergeant previously charged with assault indicted on 32 additional counts

One charge involved an altercation with Kuniken, who claimed to have seen another man being choked while being arrested by Newberg.

When Kuniken asked whether the man needed medical attention, the lawsuit claims Newberg handcuffed and drove him to the police station for interfering with an investigation. Kuniken was eventually freed without charges, after apologizing to Newberg.

The lawsuit demands punitive damages from Newberg and also asks that the Baltimore City Police Department be held independently liable for his actions.

Newberg's criminal case is scheduled to go to trial in April 2022, after several delays.