The state of Maryland has agreed to a $7 million settlement to a Baltimore man who was injured in their state-run jail. The settlement comes after many years of litigation against the state for a violent jail attack on the man which left him paralyzed in 2014. He was being detained on the charges of burglary as he was unable to pay an $800 bail.
At the time of the incident, on October 18, 2014, Daquan Wallace was a 20-year-old detainee at the Baltimore City Detention Center. As he refused to join the Black Guerrilla Family, he was brutally attacked by the gang members. He suffered a traumatic brain injury due to which he couldn’t walk or speak.
He was awarded a $25 million settlement in September 2019 by a Baltimore City jury. The case against the state alleged that three staff members of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services worked with the gang to arrange the attack on Wallace. He was transferred to a less protected and unlocked cell so that the gang members could carry out the attack. They prepared dubious transfer papers to move him to a jail that was less supervised and had more dangerous members of the gang. The jury ruled that the “negligently trained or supervised” guards “were the direct and proximate cause of his injuries.”
His attorney Larry Greenberg said, “The cell door was opened up. Two gang members came in. They beat him, left him for dead, had smashed his head up against the wall.” Wallace, who is now 28, can use his left hand for limited purposes only.
The court documents also revealed that Nicole Wallace, his mother, requested the jail officers many times to offer protection to him as he was being regularly beaten for not agreeing to join the gang.
The award was eventually reduced to $200,000 as there were limits on mass tort claims against the state. However, if the case proceeded to the Supreme Court of Maryland, there was a possibility of the $25 million award being reinstated. Therefore, by a unanimous vote, a three-member panel of the States’ Board of Public Works agreed to pay $7 million in settlement on Wednesday.
Maryland State Treasure Dereck Davis said, “We need this money, but instead, we’re paying it out for improper, unacceptable behavior.” Correction Secretary Carolyne Scruggs, said, “We are actually disciplining people at all levels, from counseling to suspension to termination, based on inappropriate actions.” As per him, none of the jail officers who were involved in enabling the attack were disciplined at that time and now all of them are retired.
The settlement also resolves a federal court case filed by Wallace’s mother against a dozen correctional officers and administrators. The case had overcome many legal challenges and was scheduled for trial in January.
In 2015, Governor Larry Hogan ordered the closing of the detention facility due to the widespread violence and gang activities inside the center. In 2019, the center was demolished.