- The Washington Times - Friday, September 27, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) A man eating lunch at a public market was beaten and stunned by deputies who mistook the man for a bank robber, and then left him injured without calling for medical help, according to a complaint filed with the sheriff's department.
Rolando Sanchez, 26, said he was taking a lunch break at the market Sept. 18 when the deputies attacked and humiliated him. Five deputies have been suspended with pay while an investigation of the complaint is conducted, the sheriff's department said.
Mr. Sanchez, a native of El Salvador who speaks little English, had been repairing the market's roof and had come down to buy lunch. While standing near a food stand, the deputies used a stun gun four times on his neck and twice on his upper back, according to his attorney, J. Stephen Simms.
The Wheaton man was then handcuffed and asked for identification. The deputies left once they realized Mr. Sanchez was not the man they were looking for, Mr. Simms said.
"Rolando would not have been left where he was if he were not a relatively small brown man who does not speak English," Mr. Simms said. "If he were white or African American and not dressed as a construction worker, this would not have happened."
The lawyer said Mr. Sanchez was attacked although the deputies had been alerted to look for a black man wearing blue jeans and a dark T-shirt. Mr. Sanchez is a fair-skinned Hispanic man who was wearing shorts, work boots and an orange T-shirt, Mr. Simms said.
Maj. Toby Goodwin, chief of operations for the sheriff's office, declined to comment on the pending investigation, or when it will be completed.
"There is an active investigation," Maj. Goodwin said. "Due to the delicacy of the situation, I will not put a time frame on the investigation."
A spokeswoman for the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office said city prosecutors would consider bringing charges if the sheriff's internal investigation indicates there was wrongdoing.
Sheriff's deputies have police powers, but their primary duties include guarding courthouses, transporting prisoners and executing warrants. The deputies became involved because one was cashing a check at the branch where the robbery took place and chased the robber toward Lexington Market. The other deputies responded to a call for backup.
When Mr. Sanchez saw the deputies coming at him, he tried to step out of their way, Mr. Simms said.
"We are outraged, not so much that he was beat up, but that they left him on the floor like a dog," said Baltimore Hispanic activist Angelo Solera. "Thugs do that. They beat you up and they leave you in the middle of Lexington Market."

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