A Silver Spring cab driver, who is a quadriplegic because of wounds he suffered when a Montgomery County policeman accidentally shot him, accepted a $1.28 million out-of-court settlement from the county yesterday.
The settlement, which grew out of the armed robbery of the Sheraton Silver Spring Motel on Feb. 20, 1978, settled all claims that the cab driver, 30-year-old Roger H. Caines, had against the county and the policeman, Thomas W. Sittner.
According to court records, Caines, a part-time driver for the Silver Spring Taxi Co., was directed by his dispatcher to go to the motel. The passenger he was to pick up there, after calling for the cab, held up the desk clerk. When Caines arrived with his cab, the robbert, identified as Ben Tomlin, pulled a gun and told Caines to drive him to the Greyhound bus station in Washington.
Montgomery County police were notified of the robberty and of the robber's escape in a cab. Sittner spotted the cab, received confirmation over his radio that it was the cab being sought and followed it on Piney Branch Road into the District of Columbia. According to court papers, Sittner attempted unsuccessfully to have the cab pull over.(FOOTNOTE)inally, a road block was set up at Piney Branch Road and Blair Road NW. Sittner emerged from his car with a loaded shotgun and stood behind the cab. Another police officer yelled to the cab's occupants to raise their hands.
Tomlin crouched in the back seat, while Caines, in the driver's seat, raised his hands. Sittner, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court here, saw Tomlin suddenly appear in the cab's rear window holding a gun.
Sittner, feeling "that his own life was in danger," according to court papers, fired his shotgun through the cab's rear window, missing Tomlin but wounding Caines.
Caines apparently was wounded by five shotgun pellets, which left him a quadriplegic who will need the aid of a respirator for the rest of his life. Caines, who is unmarried, has no control over his bowels or bladder.
He presently is hospitalized and will continue to be until February 1980. According to court papers, Caines always will need full-time nursing or custodial care.
Sittner, the police officer who fired the shotgun, was exonerated of any wrongdoing in a county administrative proceeding. The county paid all costs of the settlement. Of the $1.28 million Caines will receive $952,910.67, which is tax free. The remaining $327,089.33 will go to Caine's lawyers Milton Heller and J. Philip Kessel for legal fees and expenses.
In addition to the settlement, the county agreed to waive repayment of $122,000 in workmen's compensation benefits already paid to Caines to cover living expenses and medical bills.
Papers settling Caines' suit against the County and Sittner were filed before U.S. District Judge Aubrey S. Robinson Jr.(END FOOT)