The family of a Baltimore County jeweler who apparently was shot by police last April after he had been taken hostage during a robbery of his jewelry store today filed a $7.25 million suit accusing Howard and Baltimore counties of negligence and wanton disregard of human life in connection with the incident.

Bernard Sugar, 53, of Pikesville, died April 29 at University of Maryland hospital within hours after he allegedly was shot in the head at a Baltimore County police roadblock by a police officer, according to police accounts of the incident.

James Wells, 28, of Columbia, and William H. Jackson, 26, of Baltimore, both wounded during the shootout, subsequently were charged with both Sugar's kidnaping and murder by Baltimore County police. They currently are awaiting trial.

According to the suit, the Howard County police negligently left their cars unattended with keys in the ignition, allowing the robbers to escape in a police car with Sugar and another hostage. The police also showed "total and wanton disregard for life" by shooting at the car while hostages were inside, the suit said.

The suit was filed on behalf of Sugar's widow, Adele, and the couple's children, Ellen Sugar, of Rockville, Judith Maxine Sugar, of Randallstown, and Mark Barry Sugar, of Florida. It asked $3.25 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages.