Prince George's County

Family of Man Paralyzed During Arrest Settles Lawsuit for $7.5M

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The family of a man left paralyzed during a violent arrest in Prince George’s County settled a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The legal team for Demonte Ward Blake’s family announced the $7.5 million settlement Thursday. It’s the second-largest settlement in county history involving a police brutality claim.

Ward Blake was pulled over in Oxon Hill in October 2019. The traffic stop was escalated by Prince George’s County police Cpl. Bryant Strong.

“He intentionally and viciously threw Demonte headfirst into the pavement,” his attorney said.

Ward Blake was in handcuffs and unarmed.

Attorneys say the brutality knocked him unconscious and broke his neck.

“And caused Demonte to suffer a spinal compression injury so severe that he was immediately and permanently paralyzed from the neck down,” his attorney said.

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Attorneys sued Prince George’s County in federal court last year for $75 million.

Ward Blake’s mom spoke briefly Thursday, saying she was very emotional, depressed and resting on her faith. Her son died in a shooting unrelated to this investigation.

“Our voices need to be heard around the world for what’s going on with police brutality and families,” she said.

“No individual should be harmed when in the custody of a police officer,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said in a statement. “We have rolled out meaningful police reforms within our department, equipped all officers who interface with the public with body-worn cameras and brought in a reform-minded chief.”

While acknowledging the county has made progress, attorneys and family members say there’s still a long way to go to change the culture of the department and get rid of bad cops.

Strong was convicted of second-degree assault and sentenced to a year in jail. He is appealing that conviction.

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