A Spanish-speaking Hyattsville man has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was beaten and arrested by Prince George's County police officers with whom he was unable to communicate because he did not speak English.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Hugo Solis alleges that he was waiting outside his apartment one early summer morning last year when police arrived, beat him with their fists and police sticks and arrested him "without justification."
"Unable to communicate in English with the [officers], plaintiff was forcibly and painfully forced to the ground, and kicked and beaten several times about his body," the lawsuit alleges.
Over Solis's protests and in front of "numerous witnesses," officers kicked and beat Solis and arrested him even though he had not violated any laws, the lawsuit alleges.
The suit contends that Solis suffered severe physical injuries and lost time from work. It seeks $100,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.
The police department routinely refers questions about civil litigation against its officers to the office of the county attorney, which defends officers in civil suits. The county attorney's office yesterday did not return a phone call seeking a response to the suit.
It was unclear from the lawsuit what kinds of injuries Solis sustained or with what police charged him. The lawsuit did not say whether Solis required medical care or hospitalization.
Efforts to reach Solis's attorney, Matthew H. Goodman, yesterday were unsuccessful.
The lawsuit alleges malicious prosecution and says that the prosecution of Solis was "terminated in favor of Solis." The lawsuit does not say what Solis was charged with or whether the charge was dropped or he was acquitted at trial. There is no record of Hugo Solis being charged with a crime in Prince George's County District Court files.
Some activists who work on behalf of the county's burgeoning Latino population allege that the county's criminal justice system often shortchanges or mistreats Latinos, particularly Spanish-speaking immigrants.
Prince George's State's Attorney Jack B. Johnson (D) was criticized by some activists and legal observers last fall when he obtained murder indictments against three Laurel teenagers accused of killing a Salvadoran immigrant dishwasher without first interviewing the victim's brothers, who were with him in the moments leading up to the fatal attack.