Mother sues af­ter her son was killed in po­lice chase

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Tim Pru­dente tpru­dente@balt­sun.com

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.

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