A Baltimore Police sergeant who was hit in the face and had her hair pulled by another officer as she was being arrested while off-duty at a bachelorette party in 2018 is suing the city for $160 million.
Sgt. Henrietta Middleton was initially charged for being drunk and disorderly in the early hours of August 27, 2018, following an altercation at the Norma Jean’s Club on Custom House Avenue in downtown Baltimore.
But the charges against her were later dropped when video emerged of arresting officer Sgt. Marlon Koushall striking her in the face outside the club and dragging her by her hair, prior to cuffing her.
Criminal charges were then instead filed against Koushall, and he was convicted of assault and misconduct in office last year, receiving a 10-year suspended sentence.
Now, Middleton is seeking $160 million in damages from the city and the Baltimore Police Department, citing battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy.
Scroll down for video
Officer Sgt. Marlon Koushall was filmed appearing the strike fellow Sergeant Henrietta Middleton outside a Baltimore strip club in August 2018
Sgt. Henrietta Middleton (above) is seeking $160 million in damages from the city and the Baltimore Police Department, citing battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy
One of Middleton’s attorneys, Latoya Francis-Williams, told the Baltimore Sun: ‘We’re trying to clear her name and move forward. We’re hoping the city comes to its senses and tries to make her whole.’
In her lawsuit, Middleton contests that she was never drunk and disorderly.
According to the 14-year police veteran, she and her friends had been leaving Norma Jean’s strip club, when a member of her group realized they left some belongings inside and Middleton went in to retrieve them.
She said she was then confronted by Koushall at the front door of the club, who allegedly ‘suddenly, without provocation’, punched her three times in the face.
‘Koushall continued to pursue her, threw her to the ground, and then grabbed her by her hair and clothing,’ the lawsuit continues. ‘Koushall’s physical attack did not cease until another officer grabbed Defendant Koushall and stopped him from further assaulting and beating Middleton.’
Middleton claims she was then handcuffed to a wall at the Central District Police station for 10 hours.
She was served with a criminal citation that night, but claims Koushall drew up additional charges months later ‘with the advice and guidance’ of Lt. Jason Yerg. As reported by the Sun, Yerg had been assigned to investigate Middleton’s allegations of wrongdoing and is also named as a defendant.
In her suit, Middleton accuses Koushall and Yerg of conspiring together to ‘concoct a way to keep Defendant Koushall free from criminal charges and/or intradepartmental discipline as well as to damage Middleton in her own criminal case and assure she would not be given an objective, fair assessment within the department.’
Another police officer and a security guard are seen racing to pull the officer off of Middleton, as a crowd of angered onlookers heckle Koushall in outrage
According to Middleton, the incident was spurred when she and her friends had been leaving Norma Jean’s strip club (above) and a member of her group realized they left some belongings inside. When Middleton went inside to retrieve them, he reportedly struck her in the face
In video footage captured from outside of Norma Jean’s, Koushall is seen jostling with Middleton and throwing her to the ground by the collar of her shirt.
Another police officer and a security guard are seen racing to pull the officer off of Middleton, as a crowd of angered onlookers heckle Koushall in outrage.
The security guard who captured the footage told WBAL-TV at the time: ‘He wasn’t arresting her. He was literally throwing her around like a rag doll,’ adding there was more to the incident prior to the moment he started recording.
‘We looked up and the police was striking a female, full force, full impact,’ the doorman, who asked to remain anonymous, continued.
During the incident, the doorman said Middleton called out to a female security worker.
‘When she was on the ground, the officer told her, “Security.” She was police, so security could state that to the officer because he wasn’t hearing her,’ he said.
Middleton was then led away from the scene in handcuffs, while Koushall was also removed.
‘I think they got him out of there; the crowd was outraged,’ the security worker said.
Koushall was handed a 10-year suspended sentence and probation. He has a pending appeal against the conviction, court records show
Both Koushall and Middleton were both suspended after the incident.
Koushall was later charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office. He pleaded not guilty but was convicted of both counts in October last year.
Upon his conviction, the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said Koushall displayed a ‘blatant disregard for the law’.
‘These convictions demonstrate our unwavering commitment to hold all criminal actors accountable to the law even if and when they wear a badge,’ the office wrote.
Koushall was handed a 10-year suspended sentence and probation. He has a pending appeal against the conviction, court records show.
He remains with the department and is still currently suspended with pay. Koushall reportedly made $94,306 last year, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Koushall was reportedly involved in a previous incident of misconduct in 2014, when he and a group of several other police officers reportedly dragged a woman out of her car for recording them while calling her a ‘dumb b***h.’
Koushall tasered the woman in that incident and was later named in a 2016 lawsuit which resulted in a $60,000 settlement. The victim in that case was the daughter of a Maryland Capitol police officer.
For Middleton, meanwhile, Francis-Williams confirmed that an internal discipline against her had been ‘resolved in her favor’.
The attorney added that during that process ‘members of Police Department have been conspiring to hurt [Middleton] and not have her come out on top.
‘We believe we’re going to have the true facts come to light,’ she said.