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New Twist in Case of Greenbelt Man Who Died in Police Custody

Recent documents obtained by Patch shed some new light on the death of Michael Mang.

It’s been nearly two years since Greenbelt police officers entered Lynda Sheppard’s house in the morning of May 26, 2010 to arrest her 41-year-old son, Michael Mang.

Sheppard had obtained a protection order and arrest warrant against Mang that day because he had assaulted her and destroyed her property. She told police she thought he had been using drugs and alcohol.

Hours after officers arrested him, Mang died in police custody.

Why he died is at the center of a $10 million federal lawsuit that Sheppard has filed against the city of Greenbelt.

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Sheppard alleges in the lawsuit that Mang died as a result of the injuries he suffered when police beat him—breaking his nose and rib—while arresting him at her Greenbelt house.

Investigations by the state police and the Prince George's County State’s Attorney’s Office determined that police used appropriate force when arresting Mang, whom they say fought officers. Police took Mang to a hospital for his injuries and medical personnel released him back into police custody. He died in a police holding cell hours later—not of his injuries, but of natural causes related to a heart condition, according to the medical examiner’s report.

Recent documents obtained by Patch have shed a new, sad twist on the case.

Although Sheppard had told police that she suspected her son was under the influence of drugs, Mang’s toxicology report shows that the father of two had no substances—other than some alcohol—in his system.

In a recent interview with Patch, Dr. Zabiullah Ali, assistant medical examiner with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Maryland, said the blood analysis on Mang detected alcohol but no other drugs. His report stated that Mang died of natural causes related to the heart condition.

Ali said he was not authorized to say how much alcohol Mang had consumed.

“He had a blockage of a coronary artery, which is highly suspicious of him having a heart attack," Ali said.

But Sheppard and Mang’s sister Blanche dispute that finding.

On July 7 the women filed the $10 million lawsuit against the city of Greenbelt in federal court and the three officers involved in Mang’s arrest.

According to the lawsuit, the arresting officers—Sgt. Matthew Carr, Pfc. Johnnie Guy, and Pfc. Young Hur—physically abused Mang with “malicious and sadistic” intent and used excessive force. As a result of their actions, Mang suffered serious injuries that caused his death, according to the complaint filed in the lawsuit.

According to the petition for protection that Sheppard obtained against her son on May 26, 2010, he had threatened to kill her and her dogs. Mang also pushed her, hit her with objects, broke valuables and locked her out, she said.

In the early morning hours, officers entered Sheppard’s home, awakened the sleeping Mang, then punched, beat and tasered him, causing a fractured nose and numerous bruises, according to the lawsuit. Mang was 41 years old, 5 feet, 8 inches tall and about 140 pounds, the lawsuit states.

“Plaintiff Lynda Sheppard was physically located near the window where the police officers entered her home and was personally able to hear and/or see the attack on her son,” it states.

At the time, a neighbor named Chris Gardy told WUSA9 that he saw “blood everywhere” inside the house after the arrest.

 “I saw two rags, just dripping with blood,” he told the television station.

Ali recently told Patch that Mang had a broken nose, a broken rib on his right side, minor injuries on his face and extremities and marks on his lower back, which he said appeared to be taser marks.

According to the lawsuit, records from Doctor’s Community Hospital, where Mang was brought after the fight with police, report that he was “awake, alert, cooperative” and “speaking coherently.” But over time, he began to complain about chest pain and shortness of breath and asked that a cardiac exam be ordered, according to the lawsuit.

Mang was held at the hospital from approximately 5:37 a.m. until 9:20 a.m., when he was released into the custody of Guy, according to the complaint. At around 9:55 a.m., police found Mang lying on the floor and unconscious in the processing area of the police station and brought him back to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:46 a.m., according to the lawsuit.

The Maryland State Police’s press release stated Mang was apparently stricken with a heart attack and died in a holding cell in the Greenbelt police station while being monitored by a video camera that recorded him slumping over.

Daniel Karp, the attorney for the city of Greenbelt and its police officers, disputed the allegations in the lawsuit that officers used excessive force. He said there was no medical link between Mang dying and anything the police did.

When asked about the lawsuit’s claim that the officers beat Mang repeatedly, causing numerous bruises and a broken nose, Karp said: “That would be an example of what I think is inflammatory language. One may end up with a broken nose if they fight with the police.”

Maryland court records show that Mang previously had been convicted of second-degree assault. A second charge of second-degree assault and a charge of malicious destruction of property were related to the May 26, 2010 arrest.

He was also a defendant in two civil cases that alleged domestic violence. The most recent arising from Sheppard's petition for protection on the day of Mang’s arrest.  

Attempts to contact Mang’s family were unsuccessful. But Blanche Mang told the Gazette that her brother should be remembered as a loving brother, son and father of two, in a June 3, 2010 story.

J.P. Szymkowicz, the attorney for Mang’s mother and sister, said he could not comment on the lawsuit because he wasn’t authorized to do so by the family.

Mang’s obituary also noted that he had two daughters at the time of his death.

Bob Levin, the attorney for the mother of Mang’s two daughters, disagreed with the conclusions of the State’s Attorney’s Office after its investigation into Mang’s death. Levin said he would have guessed they'd find no police misconduct. “Apparently, that’s their opinion."

Doug Love February 12, 2012 at 12:41 AM
This is the first I've heard about this case. I would be surprised at Greenbelt City police using that much violence. But I have seen Prince George's County police doing this kind of destruction. These kind of issues make people wonder if they are safe in calling any police. Most don't know the difference between City and County. I think there is a difference, isn't there?
Ed James February 12, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Doug, the original story was covered by the Greenbelt News Review, June 3, 2010, and by a major TV network - see www.wusa9.com. Speaking as somebody who has lived in the County for almost 60 years, and the City since 1977, I'd opine that there is a difference between the two departments, based on personal experience. Yes, people are safe calling the GPD.
AndThenAgain February 13, 2012 at 06:02 AM
I'm sorry this woman lost her son. Really. But a life of drugs and alcohol takes a toll. And to blame police when your 41 y.o. son has threatened to murder you, causing you to file a restraining order (one of several against him), after which they come to help protect you at your request, is WAY out of line, especially given the findings of the medical examiner.
Bowie20715 February 13, 2012 at 11:28 AM
A guy who threatens to kill his mother and her dogs. Beats up his own mother. Throws objects at her. He's in the house violating a protective order she sought. Does anyone doubt this dude fought the officers? I sure don't. Now mom and co. want a cash bonanza.
Donald Comis February 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
I always have doubts in cases like these when someone suffers "numerous bruises and a broken nose" and then his death is declared due to a heart attack brought about by pre-existing conditions unrelated to the injuries that are proximate to death. Also, I'd like to know if the hospital did the cardiac tests the victim asked for and why they released him so soon to police custody, where he had the heart failure he predicted. These cases require close scrutiny by the public because to preserve a free country we have to make sure deaths in police custody do not involve wrongdoing by police. There was a case years ago where the Prince Georges police beat a man so much there was blood over the walls, with his family present. This was in a Greenbelt apartment complex. They thought he shot a policeman. But he turned out to be innocent--the real criminal ended up being shot at Beltway Plaza after killing an FBI agent on a nearby stakeout on an unrelated case, a stakeout the Greenbelt Police said they were not informed of. By the way, the Greenbelt police were outside the apartment building while the PG police beat the innocent man
AndThenAgain February 13, 2012 at 10:55 PM
"By the way, the Greenbelt police were outside the apartment building while the PG police beat the innocent man" __________________________________ Sounds like a prosecutable case of 9th degree assault---not quite a misdemeanor, more like a karmic violation for breathing the same air, wearing clean underwear, and driving Fords. Might slow one's admittance to Nirvana...during a rush.
Bailey Henneberg February 14, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I don't recall the incident you and Don are talking about, must have been before my time in Greenbelt. Sounds disturbing.
Bailey Henneberg February 14, 2012 at 08:36 PM
There are several sides to the story. It's hard to clearly know what happened. These days with so many people taking videos, I think that can shed light on some he-said, she-said matters. But no one has a video of Mang's arrest. Although I have ordered one of his time in the cell. I'm not looking forward to watching that one.
William T Leech February 28, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Three Greenbelt police one 140 lb. man. I know the greenbelt police and I know Michael, that man had his problems but fighting the police don't think so. The 35 years I've know him never heard or seen him in a fight.
desirea March 01, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I love how outsiders looking in has so much to say he was my friends brother he was sleep when the cops came in the home when is it ok for the cops to beat a man to the fact that he had a broken nose and rib really aren't they trained to haandle it better well if its up to people like you that think its ok I guess that's why they think the shit is ok let's not forget he was a father a brother a son and a man not a animal that they beat him like his family is hurt but I guess no one thinks of that the cops are not always right to my friend I love you and you no what happen and in do time they will get what's coming to them
Friend April 24, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Bowie20715 ~ im a friend of this mans oldest daughter, i know for a fact how gentle, kind & innocent of a human being he was. Now lets get real, do you really think that a 140 lb man could have fought three police officers with so much force that it was necessary to not only taser him , but to beat him also ? If one would use their head & common sense .. They would understand the 'facts' are far away from straight & narrow. Now you may believe that he fought police but realistically , it didnt happen . Period . As for the assumption that he was wrongfully in his mothers house, he lived there - once again , common sense dear . Finally, for this 'cabanza' you speak of .. Lets see your family treated with the disrespect & inhumane circumstances Michael Mang was & then you can talk .....
Friend April 24, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Andthenagain ~ did you incorrectly read the article ? He was not under the influence of any kind of drug .

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