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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.

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

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."

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