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The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) destroyed the personal property of a murder victim, denying his family the opportunity to collect his belongings, in violation of the family’s constitutional rights according to claims made in an amended lawsuit filed Thursday by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

On June 9, 2018, Dwayne D. Cheeks, was tragically shot and killed in Baltimore City. The BPD officers seized, inventoried, and logged Mr. Cheeks’ property into evidence but would not return items that did not have evidentiary value after his mother’s repeated requests. On December 12, 2019, BPD officers informed his mother that they had destroyed much of the property they had seized from her son in direct violation of BPD’s written policies and her constitutional rights.

“Baltimore police department officers and city officials treated a grieving mother with cold and callous indifference,” said Tianna Mays, Criminal Justice Project senior counsel, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The destruction of her son’s property was an added insult to an unrecoverable injury. The Baltimore Police Department robbed her of the chance to pass some of her son’s belongings to her grandchildren.”

“Contrary to their own policies, BPD has behaved towards victims of crime and their families as though civil rights stop the moment someone becomes a victim of a crime. The new evidence we have added to our case highlights this unfortunate reality,” said Anne Malik, a partner at Orrick, a global law firm assisting the Lawyers’ Committee pro bono.  “We hope to give those who had their property or the property of a lost loved one seized by BPD a chance to hold accountable both the department and those responsible for serving as watchdogs over it.”

Read the amended complaint here.