A $100 million civil trial opened Thursday with attorneys contending that Baltimore police officers purposely drove erratically while transporting a suspect, leading to the man's death.
Dondi Johnson Sr., 43, had been arrested in November 2005 by officers Sendy Ferdinand and Michael Riser on a charge that he urinated at Pimlico Road and Loyola Southway. Officer Nicole Leake testified that she picked up Johnson in a police van.
Johnson died Dec. 7, 2005, of a fractured spine, according to the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by his family against the three officers. It contends that the officers "maliciously failed to belt [Johnson] into ... police van's seat so that he was subject to being violently thrown around the back of the vehicle as the Defendant Leake drove in an aggressive fashion, taking turns so as to injure [Johnson] who was helplessly cuffed."