Mother sues after her son was killed in police chase
The mother of an infant boy crushed in his stroller when a driver wrecked while fleeing police is suing the officer and department over the deadly pursuit in Northeast Baltimore.
Early last November, after a day at church, Teaira Smallwood stood waiting for a bus with her young daughter and infant son in Frankford.
By then Wayne Anthony Green Jr. had crashed into an empty police car in Baltimore County and sped away, leading officers into the city, police said. Green, 38, was driving a Mercedes-Benz north on Moravia Road when he smashed into a Volvo that pulled out. The Volvo spun, jumped the curb and crushed 1-year-old Jeremiah Perry.
Smallwood pried her son from beneath the Volvo, and he died at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Green pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges in August. He was sentenced to 11 years.
The boy’s family has publicly questioned why Baltimore County police pursued Green.
Attorneys for the family did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Smallwood is suing Baltimore County police, Officer Joseph Kamberger Jr. and the Volvo driver, Nathan Joyner. The lawsuit alleges that Joyner made an improper right turn and failed to yield to the oncoming Mercedes. Joyner could not be reached for comment.
Baltimore County police spokeswoman Elise Armacost declined to comment Tuesday on the lawsuit. She said neither the department nor its officers discuss pending litigation.
The lawsuit also names Cheira Washington of Westminster as the person who allowed Green to borrow her Mercedes. He had a history of traffic charges and more than a decade earlier pleaded had guilty to homicide by vehicle and driving while intoxicated in Baltimore County. Police said at the time he crossed a traffic line while driving in Woodlawn, killing 54-year-old Norman Generette. He was sentenced to three years.
“Washington knew or should have known that Wayne had a record of dangerous, reckless and incompetent driving,” according to the lawsuit. She did not return messages for comment. The chain of events a year ago raised questions about policies over police chases.
“I know God don’t make no mistakes, but it was just so wrong for that cop to chase [the driver] all the way through town like that,” Smallwood said at a candlelight vigil a day after her son died.
Later that month, county police guidelines advised officers to consider risk factors such as weather, visibility, roadway curves, traffic and more whendeciding to chase. Anarrest is a secondary concern to the safety of the community, the policy advised. And a pursuit crossing into another jurisdiction counted as one factor of high risk.
The policy was adjusted this year after the annual review. Now a pursuit into another jurisdiction counts as a medium risk factor if the officer knows the area.
Armacost said last year that a supervisor had approved the pursuit.
Kamberger, whowas hired three years ago, was named in the lawsuit as the officer who chased. He remains employed with the department, Armacost said.
Police began a routine investigation into the chase after the criminal case against Green ended in August. That review continues.
Including officers, 370 people died in crashes during police pursuits in 2015, including five in Maryland, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Smallwood and her attorneys have requested a jury trial. The trial has not been scheduled.