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ACLU sues Baltimore after woman loses half of police settlement for speaking out

ACLU sues Baltimore

BALTIMORE -- Officials with the ACLU said they are suing the city of Baltimore and its police department because victims of alleged police abuse are being silenced, CBS Baltimore reports

A woman allegedly attacked by three Baltimore police officers said she's been victimized once again because the city took away half of her settlement money when she spoke up.

When the city reaches a settlement in a case, certain parties aren't allowed to comment. But Ashley Overbey said she thought she still had the right to defend herself by responding to comments online.

Overbey said her ordeal started in 2012, after she called police when her apartment had been burglarized. When officers arrived, she said the encounter turned tragic.

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Ashley Overbey  CBS Baltimore

"Instead of them helping me, they brutalized me. They beat me up, it was three male officers who beat, punched, kicked, and attacked me as if I were a male or a threat," Overbey said.

She was subsequently arrested and locked up for a night, but the charges were later dropped, she said.

When word got out that she received a settlement, Overbey said people started commenting on a blog and when she responded to defend herself, the city revoked half of her settlement.

"I was totally devastated. I had worked and sacrificed for two years, two years I was homeless, I was unemployed because I was labeled a criminal," she said.

Thursday, the ACLU announced it's suing the city and its police department for forcing people who've received settlements to stay quiet.

"This is a coordinated effort to take on gag orders which have silenced numerous victims, maybe more than we know," said Maryland ACLU executive director Susan Goering.

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Maryland ACLU executive director Susan Goering CBS Baltimore

The police department referred questions about the case to the City solicitor. CBS Boston reached out to the office, and was referred to the mayor's office.

A spokesperson for the mayor said a settlement had been reached and "it does not serve the interests of either party for much more to be said."

But Overbey said she'll keep speaking out against a system she thinks is flawed.

"Unless the people can know what's going on and what these cops, the government and city officials are actually doing to us, no change can come about."

Overbey said she hopes to get the other half of her settlement back, along with additional damages.

The ACLU also announced a lawsuit against Salisbury, Maryland and its police department in a similar case.

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