A 20-year-old Cottage City man is suing the Prince George’s County government and a county police officer for $10 million, claiming in the lawsuit that he was jailed for months on fabricated charges after an officer hit him in the head with a gun and the weapon discharged, his attorney said Wednesday.
Ryan Dorm was arrested in February and charged with second-degree assault and other related counts, accused initially of attempting to disarm and assaulting a police officer. But soon after that, police internal affairs detectives uncovered a video that contradicted portions of the officer’s account, and prosecutors dropped some of the charges against Dorm.
The rest of those charges were dropped earlier this month, and Dorm was finally released from jail, according to court records, the state’s attorney’s office and his attorney, Jimmy A. Bell. Bell said he filed a lawsuit in Prince George’s County Circuit Court Wednesday, seeking $10 million for the assault, false imprisonment and emotional distress his client endured.
“They altered his life,” Bell said. “The reality of it is, if you have a police officer who makes up a story to try to cover himself, that’s the worst case scenario you can have.”
The February incident started when Prince George’s officers in the Brentwood area saw two people — at least one wearing a mask — go into the Lowest Price Gas station convenience store, authorities have said.
According to the account police first gave in charging documents, officers thought that the men were about to rob the store. Dorm, according to the documents, punched a detective and then ran. Another detective, Donald Taylor, chased him and saw what he thought was a gun fall from Dorm’s waistband, the charging papers allege. He drew his gun, and Dorm “charged towards” him and “attempted to disarm him.” The encounter caused Taylor’s gun to fire, according to the documents.
Bell said that telling of the story is almost wholly inaccurate. He said surveillance video shows an officer approach Dorm, draw his weapon and strike him in the head — while the teen makes no aggressive movements. At some point, police have said, the gun fired, but no one was injured.
Law enforcement sources who saw the video have corroborated Bell’s account.
Police suspended Taylor — who is named in the lawsuit — soon after the incident, but they continued to pursue some charges against Dorm, even procuring an indictment in March. Those charges were dropped on May 21, and Dorm was released from jail, according to court records and Bell.
John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors felt they did not have enough evidence to move the case forward.
“Obviously, it takes time to review everything,” Erzen said. “Once we did that, we didn’t feel there was sufficient evidence to go forward with the charges.”
Julie Parker, a Prince George’s County police spokeswoman, said Wednesday that Taylor remained suspended with pay, though officials clarified Thursday that he has since been moved to a desk duty assignment with the department. Parker said police’s internal investigation is continuing, and detectives were working with the state’s attorney’s office. Erzen said prosecutors had not determined yet whether criminal charges might be filed against Taylor.
This Post has been updated.