Family of slain Dundalk woman sues Baltimore County police
Luke Broadwater, The Examiner
Aug 10, 2006 5:00 AM (2 days ago)
BALTIMORE - The police never knocked on her door.
They threw a flash-bang grenade and used a battering ram instead.
Then they shot the startled 44-year-old Dundalk mother to death in her bedroom without reason.
That’s the argument laid out in a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed Wednesday by family members of Cheryl Noel, 44, whom police shot and killed during a Jan. 19, 2005 SWAT team raid of her residence.
The 11-page lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the family in connection with the loss of Noel’s life and the “companionship” and “care” she provided to her husband, mother and two sons.
“This was a tragedy that should never have happened,” said Terrell Roberts III, an attorney for the Noel family.
Roberts claims in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore that five police officers and Baltimore County violated Noel’s constitutional rights by killing her.
Officer Carlos Artson “made an unreasonable seizure of the person of Cheryl Lynn Noel by shooting and killing her, violating her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution ...” the suit states.
At 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 21, 2005, Noel and her husband, Charles, were asleep in the master bedroom of their row house when the heavily-armed Baltimore County SWAT team stormed through her home. According to the suit, officers had found “trace amounts of drugs” in trash cans outside of the home.
Cheryl Noel feared criminal intruders had broken into her home and grabbed a lawfully registered gun and held it pointed at the floor, the suit states.
Artson kicked in her bedroom door with his boot and, without identifying himself or telling Noel to drop her weapon, shot her three times, including once after she already had slumped to the floor, according to the suit.
“The use of a SWAT team to execute a routine drug warrant was excessive and overkill,” Roberts said. “The woman never knew the police had entered her home. She was doing everything that could be expected of a law-abiding citizen to protect her own life. She was shot and killed without any warning that the police were present or to drop her gun.”
Roberts said his clients “vigorously dispute” arguments that Noel was pointing her gun at the police officer when the officer shot her.
“Clearly, a third shot was wholly unnecessary and grossly excessive,” he said.
Baltimore County Police spokesman William Toohey said police did nothing wrong and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s backs the officers.
“The State’s Attorney’s Office ruled that the shooting was justified,” he said.