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Wallingford settles police excessive force claim for $275k

Wallingford settles police excessive force claim for $275k

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WALLINGFORD — A man injured while being arrested is slated to receive an insurance settlement of more than a quarter million dollars.

According to a Jan. 24 letter from Town Attorney Gerald Farrell Sr. to the Town Council, the town has a $25,000 deductible that will be applied toward the $275,000 settlement.

The letter indicated that the matter is closed.

The settlement was handled between Gary Joseph King's lawyer and Wallingford's insurance company, which advised Farrell that “they do not need the town’s consent to the settlement, as the policy only requires consent of suits and not the settlement of claims prior to suits,” the letter stated.

Loughlin Fitzgerald, a personal injury law firm, filed an intent to sue in December 2018 on behalf of King.

King, then 25, was struck in the head while handcuffed as officers attempted to arrest him during a domestic violence incident on Ward Street on June 14, 2018.

Police Chief William Wright declined to comment on the settlement. King was unavailable for comment.

Police Officer Joseph Smith, who struck King, served a two-week suspension in October 2018 after an internal investigation determined it was an excessive use of force.

King reportedly resisted the officers’ efforts to gain control of him.

The incident was corroborated by cruiser-recorded video. The video shows Smith striking King while struggling to get him into the back of the cruiser. 

The blow rendered King unconscious. He was evaluated by emergency crews at the scene and taken to MidState Medical Center in Meriden.

Wright said in November 2018 that King was intoxicated, had pulled a knife on one officer and head butted another during the incident.

Officers attempted to subdue King and place him in the rear of a cruiser. Wright said King was still resisting when Smith delivered the blow to his head.

The state police decided, Wright said, that there was no criminal intent by Smith to harm King and referred the investigation back to Wallingford police, where two officers state-certified in use of force concluded that the strike by Smith was excessive.

King pleaded not guilty to charges of possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, interfering with an officer/resisting arrest, second-degree breach of peace and failure to comply with a fingerprint request. 

He pleaded guilty to felony assault on public safety personnel on Sept. 4, 2018. He was sentenced to four years in jail, which was suspended, and two years’ probation.

Twitter: @LCTakores

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