Federal Judge Upholds Police Misconduct Claim Against Connecticut Police Officers in Case of Mistaken Identity

Affiliate: ACLU of Connecticut
October 8, 2003 12:00 am

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HARTFORD-A federal judge today upheld a police misconduct claim filed by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a man who was mistakenly identified as a suspect and then kicked and beaten by city police officers.

This is the second case the CCLU has filed in recent months involving an innocent suspect who was allegedly beaten after being handcuffed. It is also the second lawsuit filed against one of the officers, Robert Murtha, who has been charged in a separate lawsuit with firing his weapon into the side of a moving automobile.

“”We will prosecute these cases to their fullest,”” said attorney Philip Tegeler of the CCLU. “”Striking a handcuffed suspect is clearly unreasonable force, and Hartford has to take responsibility for training and disciplining its officers.””

Today’s case involves the mistaken late night stop of Hartford resident Mantoris Jones and his companion in 2001, in which a police officer allegedly kicked and beat Jones, ripped his pants down and exposed his naked body after he had been handcuffed.

According to the CCLU complaint, the police officers on the scene quickly dispersed when it was learned they had stopped the wrong car. No arrests were made.

In her ruling, Judge Janet Hall of the U.S. District Court dismissed claims against the police chief, Bruce Marquis, who had only been on the job for six weeks at the time of the incident, but upheld claims against the City of Hartford. The Court refused to dismiss claims against the officers directly involved in the incident, including claims for unconstitutional use of force, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. A sergeant who was not directly involved in the incident was dismissed from the case.

Judge Hall observed in her ruling that “”an officer who has not been trained in proper, constitutional felony stop procedures has implicitly been left untrained as to how to recognize when such procedures are unlawfully employed by others. Similarly, a policy that requires officers only to report the force they themselves use encourages them only to note and monitor their own force, not that of others.””

The CCLU is being assisted in the case by Attorney Terry Gallagher of Day, Berry & Howard. L.L.P. The case will now proceed to trial.

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