Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

County police officer sued for false arrest, assault

A romantic rivalry was motivation behind charges filed against a Poolesville man, lawsuit says

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A Poolesville man has filed a $6.2 million lawsuit against a county police officer and Montgomery County claiming that the officer, who considered the man a romantic rival, beat and falsely arrested him after a traffic stop in August 2006.

Michael Marko Borkovich, 27, who had dated the officer’s then-girlfriend, was charged on 12 counts, including second-degree assault of a police officer and possession of a concealed deadly weapon, court records show.

All the charges were dropped in October 2006 after prosecutors interviewed other officers at the scene and determined that Officer Gabriel Stone had falsely sworn his affidavit and official report, according to the lawsuit.

Borkovich is seeking $5 million from Stone for negligence, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest and imprisonment and violation of rights and $1.2 million from the county for those counts as well as negligent supervision and retention. The suit, filed this summer in Montgomery County Circuit Court, also seeks compensation for legal fees.

On Dec. 4, Montgomery County filed a motion for partial dismissal, citing governmental immunity, according to the lawsuit.

Neither Borkovich nor Stone could be reached for comment. According to the suit, Stone was placed on suspension after the arrest. Montgomery County Police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said last month that Stone is still on active duty with the department. An internal investigation found that ‘‘there was no reason he could not be on active duty with the police department,” she said.

Borkovich’s arrest occurred just after 1 a.m. on Aug. 30, 2006, as he was driving home after leaving a restaurant, according to the lawsuit. Stone pulled him over near Wisteria Drive and Great Seneca Highway in Germantown. Stone was on-duty and waiting for him to leave the restaurant.

Stone, who according to the lawsuit had previously threatened Borkovich, searched the car and allegedly found a rolled-up dollar bill with white powder residue and arrested Borkovich.

Two on-duty officers joined Stone shortly after the traffic stop, and although they ‘‘harbored doubts that any probable cause or reasonable basis existed,” according to the suit, they handcuffed Borkovich.

Stone then repeatedly struck Borkovich about his body while he was handcuffed and continued to strike him after he fell down and hit his head, the suit says. Borkovich was cooperative and passed a field sobriety test administered by one of the other officers, according to the lawsuit.

‘‘Justice will prevail,” said Borkovich’s attorney, Larry A. Ceppos.

Associate County Attorney Paul F. Leonard Jr., attorney for both the county and Stone, declined comment due to the pending litigation.

In addition to second-degree assault of a police officer and possession of a concealed deadly weapon, Borkovich was charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, paraphernalia possession, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, failure to obey a traffic device, failure to drive right of center, driving while under the influence of alcohol, driving while impaired by alcohol and driving while impaired by drugs.

After posting bond later that day, Borkovich sought treatment at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital for cuts and bruises he received during the arrest, according to the lawsuit, and his injuries were documented in pictures taken at the Montgomery County Detention Center and the hospital.

In charging documents, written by Stone and filed in District Court, Borkovich is accused of speeding, failing to stop at two flashing red lights and crossing the yellow line multiple times. Stone wrote that Borkovich smelled like alcohol and had bloodshot eyes, and that he had a large double-bladed dagger in his lap. The documents also state that Borkovich was belligerent and refused to take a field sobriety test, repeatedly disobeyed the officers and admitted to drinking a pitcher of beer.

In 1999, Borkovich pleaded guilty to paraphernalia possession and was fined $250, according to an online state court record database.

A trial for the lawsuit has been set for next December.