A pregnant mom in Baltimore, Maryland, went to see her twin girls graduate from preschool, but rather than watch her little girls proudly receive their “diplomas” as they ready themselves for the big step of entering first grade, Amanda Scott got punched in the head and painfully pepper-sprayed. All because she had the bad luck to run into a police officer in a rotten mood.
Those are the allegations in a lawsuit filed Monday by Scott and her teenage sister Donnesha Bennet, claiming that a Baltimore cop named Timothy Kelly became physically abusive without any provocation — not only slugging and pepper-spraying the mom, but placing the twins’ aunt, herself a minor, in a chokehold.
The Baltimore police are currently under close scrutiny for their alleged pattern of brutality. According to a lengthy investigative series in The Baltimore Sun newspaper last year, the city has paid almost $6 million in settlements over claims that the city’s cops used excessive force, mostly against African-American citizens, many of whom were not even suspected of a crime.
“Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations,” the Sun revealed in its series last September. “Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.”
The mom — who was pregnant with another child — and aunt attending a preschool graduation could soon be added to that disturbing list, depending on the outcome of Scott’s lawsuit.
Neither the city, nor Scott’s lawyers have commented publicly on the suit.
So what happened? According to the suit, as reported by Courthouse News Service, Scott was enjoying the post-graduation reception with her twins on June 5, 2013, when she noticed her young sister involved in what the suit calls a “heated conversation” with the school principal.
Baltimore Police Corporal Timothy Kelly was also there. The principal told the two women to leave, which they attempted to do, the lawsuit says, when Kelly grabbed Scott by the arm.
The mom asked to be let go, telling Kelly she was pregnant and not breathing easily.
The police officer’s response?
“Kelly struck plaintiff Scott about the head and face with closed fists, deployed pepper spray aimed at her face, and subsequently struck her with the pepper spray can,” the lawsuit says.
Bennett tried to jump in and protect her big sister. That’s when, according to the suit, Kelly put her in a chokehold — a police tactic that became a renewed source of controversy last year when a New York City officer choked 43-year-old Eric Garner, who then suffered a heart attack and died.
When the two women finally broke free and left the building, Kelly chased them outside, throwing Scott to the ground and arresting her. So in addition to a face full of pepper spray, the mom also got a second-degree assault charge — but the charges were never pursued and are now in the court’s inactive file.