- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004

BALTIMORE (AP) — A man who was left paralyzed after his neck was broken during a 1997 arrest by Baltimore police has agreed to a $6 million settlement with the city.

The Board of Estimates was set to vote at its meeting yesterday on the settlement with Jeffrey Adrian Alston, 39, a quadriplegic receiving around-the- clock care at an Ellicott City, Md., nursing home.

A jury awarded him $39 million this year, but a payout could have been reduced or delayed by appeals.

City Solicitor Ralph Tyler said the city and Mr. Alston’s attorneys found “common ground” on a settlement that would cover the costs of caring for Mr. Alston.

Mr. Tyler said that clearly “something happened” in the 1997 incident between Baltimore police and Mr. Alston and that the settlement was a fair conclusion to the case.

State law dictates a $650,000 limit on “noneconomic” damages such as pain and suffering, which accounted for the bulk of the jury’s award to Mr. Alston. The limit at the time of the injury was $545,000.

A Circuit Court jury ordered the city in June to pay Mr. Alston $559,334 for past medical expenses, $8.5 million for future life-care costs and $30 million for physical and mental pain, impairment and disfigurement.

Jonathan Schochor, one of Mr. Alston’s attorneys, said he did not want to comment extensively about the settlement because he thought it was confidential.

“Everybody wanted to keep the details of this confidential,” Mr. Schochor said. “Jeffrey Alston has been through enough.”

Officers said Mr. Alston freed himself from a seat belt in a police van and repeatedly rammed his head into a plastic window that separates police from passengers.

During the trial, Dr. Adrian Barbul, a trauma surgeon at Sinai Hospital, ruled out that contention. The surgeon said Mr. Alston had no external head injuries when he was taken to the hospital’s emergency room.

The incident occurred Nov. 3, 1997, when Mr. Alston was stopped for speeding. Officer Arnold McDonald said he initially wanted to issue Mr. Alston a ticket but took him into custody after smelling alcohol on the man’s breath.

In the lawsuit, Mr. Alston said that three additional officers arrived at the scene and that he “was handcuffed, put in leg irons, strip-searched, put in a headlock/chokehold and then thrown headfirst” into the back of a police van.

Court records showed that Mr. Alston had a long history of arrests, mostly on drug charges, but no convictions.

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