Man Wrongfully Held in Solitary Confinement Reaches Settlement with Police
Marlow Humbert was mistaken by authorities for the Charles Village Rapist and was wrongfully held in isolation in a correctional facility for more than a year back in 2008. There were a series of violent attacks that occurred in Charles Village and Mount Vernon between June and November 2008 that ultimately led to his arrest.
Humbert filed a lawsuit against the city of Baltimore police department in federal court three years later, in 2011, claiming officers had DNA results within a month of his arrest that exonerated him. The case alleged that public hysteria over the attacks in Charles Village led officers to target him with limited evidence, and instead of letting him walk after processing the DNA from the scene which was not affiliated with Humbert, they wrongfully continued to keep him in solitary confinement. While he was being jailed, Humbert was subjected to harassment and threats by the guards and fellow inmates, according to his attorney, Charles H. Edwards IV, because police accused him of being a “serial rapist,” a stigma that was not well-received. This caused Humbert to be quarantined from the others.
“Everyone has been focused on police brutality” in Baltimore, Edwards said. “This is not something you’re going to catch on cameras. It brings attention to an aspect of Baltimore policing that goes unnoticed and is extremely hard to prove.” The public was happy that the perpetrator was “caught” and the hysteria died down. No one cared to here there was evidence to the contrary.
Now, Humbert is set to receive a $2 million settlement from the department, which will need to be approved by the city’s spending panel. A jury ruled unanimously that the three officers involved violated the inmate’s right to be free from malicious prosecution. “The verdict was surprising,” said Howard Libit, a spokesperson for the city’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake after it was read. “The city intends to file post-trial motions and, if necessary, an appeal.”
Humbert was initially awarded $800,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages, which was eventually reduced to $2 million. Yet, his case has not been without some setbacks.
Humbert was originally awarded the sum by a jury in April 2015. Yet, two months after the court’s decision, a U.S. District Judge reversed it, indicating that detectives had probable cause to convict and keep Humbert in confinement and had not acted with “actual malice.” The ruling also indicated the officers were entitled to immunity for wrongfully convicting him. The court wrote, “Although the jury found that the police defendants had breached a duty of care owed to Humbert, proximately causing him injury, the jury further found that none of the police defendants had acted with actual malice.”
Humbert subsequently appealed the reversal and finally won his case in August 2017. But, the troubles didn’t end there. Baltimore’s police department then petitioned the Supreme Court to hear its appeal in the matter. Finally, the high court, which only accepts approximately one percent of appeals, declined the request last month and city officials have agreed to settle Humbert’s case.