A Maryland man brutally beaten by gang members inside a Maryland jail is expected to get $7 million dollars from the state. Daquan Wallace, 28, now paralyzed, cannot walk or talk and his lawsuit blames the state for what happened to him.
“I just want my life back,” Wallace said in a text message shared by his attorneys.
Wallace has fought for nearly a decade to be compensated for what happened back in 2014 at the Baltimore City jail.
Wallace was sent to the Baltimore City Detention Center stemming from a burglary charge in September 2014 that was later dismissed.
According to Wallace’s lawsuit against the state of Maryland, he was pressured to join the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) just weeks after being incarcerated. BGF is a notorious prison gang founded in 1966 and operates primarily in California and Maryland, according to the Justice Department.
“He refused to join a gang,” attorney Larry Greenberg said to CBS News explaining the reasons behind the beatdown.
On Dec. 2, 2014, the then-20-year-old Wallace — who is described in the legal claim against the state as being 5 feet 10 and 130 pounds when he was booked into the jail — appeared injured with a black eye during a bail review hearing.
His mother contacted jail officials expressing concern for her son’s safety. She also told jail staff her son told her “People were trying to get him to join gangs and that he was afraid for his life,” according to court documents. She then requested Wallace be moved to a different housing unit within the jail.
The jail would not comply with the mother’s request to ensure her son’s safety.
The lawsuit claimed corrections officers “cooperated with gang members” at the jail.
On Dec. 18, 2014, Wallace was moved to another housing unit. The lawsuit alleges the officers claimed Wallace was “extorting” other inmates for phone and commissary privileges to justify the move. Under oath, the officers later admitted the extortion claims were false.
Later that evening around 7 p.m., according to court documents, an officer sent all inmates in the housing unit to the cafeteria for dinner except for occupants of three jail cells and Wallace. The inmate who’d been in the cell Wallace was being transferred to testified he was sent out of the cell as soon as Wallace brought in.
The three cells of the inmates who’d been left behind during dinner were left open while the rest of the housing unit was at dinner. For a period of five to ten minutes, Wallace was beaten, bloodied and left with head injury, causing brain damage.
“The cell door was opened up. Two gang members came in. They beat him, left him for dead, had smashed his head up against the wall,” Greenberg said.
When Wallace’s cellmate returned from dinner and discovered him beaten, he alerted jail staff. Wallace was transported to the medical unit where he was “found to have trauma to the right side of his head in the facial area, his bottom lip and the back of his head contained a section of blood.”
Court documents say the officer responsible for the unit violated policy and later admitted to leaving the cells unlocked.
On Dec. 15, 2017, Wallace filed a lawsuit against the State of Maryland, the Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Division of Pretrial Detention and Services. He accused the state of violating his due process rights, excessive force, encouraging and covering up the attack and failing to render aid.
The jury found the state violated Wallace’s rights and its negligence caused his injuries. The jury awarded Wallace $25 million in damages. However, the award amount was later reduced to $200,000 in accordance with the Maryland Tort Claims Act which places a limit on damages paid in personal injury lawsuits.
After the reduction, the judgment was amended back to the full $25 million. Both Wallace and the State appealed with Wallace seeking the full amount while the State advocated for $200,000. The next step would have been the State Supreme Court. The two sides agreed to a $7 million settlement, and if approved it would be the highest settlement paid in an inmate brutality case, WMAR reports.
“This governor, comptroller and treasurer are to be commended for taking a bigger step than anybody has taken in Maryland history,” Wallace’s attorney, Cary Hansel, said to The Washington Post.
On Mar. 1, Maryland’s Comptroller, Brooke Lierman apologized to Wallace after announcing the settlement.
“I’m so sorry this happened and I’m glad we can provide some resources to you and your family moving forward. Something like this should never happened,” Lierman said.
Maryland Treasurer Dereck Davis expressed frustration the state is having to pay out taxpayer money for something like this.
“We need this money, but instead, we’re paying it out for improper, unacceptable behavior,” Davis said during a press conference.
The jail was ordered to shut down in 2015 and it was fully demolished by August 2021. The inmates were sent to other facilities.
WMAR reported Hogan said upon its closing, “the Baltimore City Detention Center was known as one of the worst prisons in America, where corruption and poor conditions were dangerous for employees and detainees.”
The corrections officers accused in Wallace’s lawsuit have all retired, according to the Corrections Secretary.
Since the beating nearly a decade ago, court documents described Wallace’s lasting condition as “mute” and “triplegic with catastrophic brain damage.”
Communicating via text, after the settlement was announced Wallace typed, “Thanks y’all” before being wheeled away by attorneys and family members.