On Wednesday, a woman who alleged her breasts were exposed by police before she was thrown into a police van without being covered up in 2012 was awarded $95,000 by the Baltimore City Board of Estimates.
The lawsuit, filed in 2013, stated that on June 1, 2012, Christine Abbott was hosting a social gathering at her residence on Falls Road, in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. Police arrived in response to a noise complaint. After they confronted another resident of the household, Jake Masters, an argument ensued, with the police threatening to use a taser on Masters. Abbott intervened, and an officer “grabbed Abbott and violently threw her to the ground. Abbott’s dress went up over her back, revealing her underwear. Abbott was handcuffed with her hands behind her back …Ultimately, the officers stood Abbott up. Her dress was ripped from the Officers throwing her to the ground, and her breasts were exposed.”
The suit continued that “police refused to allow Abbott, or standers-by, to pull up her dress or otherwise conceal her breasts … Officers then forcefully threw Abbott into the back of a police van.”
Abbott told CBS Baltimore that the ride “was really bumpy. They were driving very fast and aggressively. They took really wide, fast turns, and I was just sliding around in there.” She added, “My breasts were exposed and they just had me standing there for anyone to see.”
The 5-member Board of Estimates voted unanimously to settle the federal lawsuit; City Solicitor George Nilson, a member of the board, said that the issue was not the rough ride, but rather the exposure of Abbott’s breasts. He asserted that the police should have requested that a female officer cover her up, explaining to the Baltimore Sun, “Instead, the male officer tried to do it. And the young lady was mortified by the prolonged exposure to the crowd of 110 people.”
Nilson stated that settling out of court saved the city money. City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, also a member of the board, argued that Abbott was partially responsible for the mishap, saying, “She was interfering with police duties.”
The city has spent almost $13 million in settlements and court judgments for lawsuits involving the police since 2011; the settlements do not admit culpability.