A federal court jury awarded $63,000 in damages yesterday to Roy Cruz, a 30-year-old printer from Riverdale who argued that Prince George's County police officers deprived him of his civil rights by beating and harassing him over a 10-year period.
The county government was ordered to pay Cruz, whose attorney, Dan Hurson, argued that Cruz was beaten twice by county officers and was arrested 14 times, although only one of those arrests -- for marijuana possession -- resulted in conviction. Hurson contended that the county government was liable because it failed to properly supervise or discipline its officers.
The jury found that there had been a conspiracy on the part of the officers and the county government to harass Cruz, according to County Attorney Robert Ostrom. Attorneys for the county argued that Cruz was not harassed and that the arrests were legitimate, Ostrom said.
Hurson theorized that the police disliked Cruz because he "objected to the way police treated him" and because "after a while, he was arrested so many times that he got the reputation of being a bad actor."
Police officers named in the suit were John Calhoon, Ronald Smith, Robin Thompson, Robert Lerner, Richard Radcliffe, Charles Fobbs, James Huff, William Maroney, and Robert Eyre. Most of the police work out of the Hyattsville station.