City of Meriden settles police brutality lawsuit

City of Meriden settles police brutality lawsuit

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MERIDEN – The city has reached a $38,500 settlement in a federal lawsuit accusing the police department of using excessive force and injuring two men while responding to a noise complaint. 

The City Council accepted the settlement, which stems from a December 2012 incident, during its meeting last week.  

According to the lawsuit, filed in November 2015, police officers Det. Sgt. Shane Phillips and Officer Christopher Owen responded to 718 Broad St. to investigate a noise complaint, and used their Tasers while attempting to take Michael Thibodeau, of Meriden, and Joshua Thibodeau, of Johnson, Rhode Island into custody. 

The complaint also accuses Phillips and Owen of “punching, hitting and kicking them and inflicting upon them painful bruises, contusions and lacerations,” and that the use of “unreasonable force” represented a violation of the Fourth Amendment. 

Police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Fry said an internal affairs investigation was conducted after the incident, but neither Phillips or Owen were disciplined. 

In the city’s response to the lawsuit, filed Feb. 17, 2016, Attorney James Tallberg  denied the allegations and argued Phillips and Owen were justified in their use of force. Tallberg said in the filing that the Thibodeaus “used physical force to resist arrest.” 

New Haven attorney John Williams represented the Thibodeaus.

The City Council voted to settle the Thibodeaus’ lawsuit after meeting in executive session. A resolution on the matter noted the insurance deductible for bringing the case to trial would have been $100,000 and recommended the Council settle the claim “without admitting liability and expressly denying liability.”

City Council Majority Leader Brian Daniels described the decision to settle as an economic one.

“The cost of going through the trial, the expenses alone would likely exceed (the deductible),” Daniels said. “Given the cost of defense and the  amount of the settlement, it made economic sense to settle.”

Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ


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