Wallingford settles second excessive force claim against police

Wallingford settles second excessive force claim against police

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WALLINGFORD — The Town Council recently authorized a $75,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by a woman who suffered a broken wrist during her arrest by a local police officer.

Town Attorney Gerald E. Farrell Sr. said that claimant Traci Fittanto, a Florida resident who used to live in Southbury, suffered a “real injury,” although she admitted in court documents that she had acted “unruly” before her arrest in 2016.

“The town always supports its police force,” Farrell said. “There was no disagreement with police on this settlement.”

Farrell said that the town has a $25,000 insurance deductible for law enforcement liability claims.

“My client is pleased with the resolution of the case,” said Arthur C. Laske III, Fittanto’s attorney.

Last month, the town settled another claim of excessive use of force by a police officer. 

Gary Joseph King, of Wallingford, was struck in the head while handcuffed as officers attempted to arrest him in June 2018. An intent to sue was filed in December 2018, and the town settled in January for $275,000.

Fittanto case

Fittanto filed a $775,000 claim in federal court in April 2019 against the town and former Wallingford Police Officer David Gallo.

She claimed Gallo used excessive force during her arrest on charges of evading responsibility after a motor vehicle collision in April 2016.

According to court documents, Fittanto was involved in a car crash in Wallingford on April 12, 2016, and left the scene of the accident.

Gallo located Fittanto’s vehicle in Middlefield. He determined she was unable to drive after conducting field sobriety tests and placed Fittanto into a police cruiser. After police say she made two outbursts en route to Wallingford, Gallo stopped his vehicle and opened the rear door of the cruiser.

Fittanto “extended both her middle fingers upward” as she leaned forward to exit the vehicle, court documents said, and Gallo reportedly pulled her onto the ground, and then placed his foot and knee on her head, shoulders and mid-back while placing her in handcuffs.

She claimed she suffered a left wrist fracture and incurred medical costs, lost wages and other financial harm, court documents said.

Gallo no longer in Wallingford

Wallingford police won’t release the arrest report or other related records since the criminal case against Fittanto was dismissed.

Gallo was hired by the Wallingford Police Department as a probationary officer in August 2013. He left in July 2017 and began that month in the Seymour Police Department.

Wallingford Police Chief William Wright and Seymour Police Chief Paul Satkowski declined to comment.

Larry Dorman, spokesman for Local 1570, Council 4 AFSCME, declined to comment on the settlement, but said that Gallo, now Seymour’s K9 officer, “did a terrific job during his time in Wallingford, and is doing a terrific job in Seymour.”

Twitter: @LCTakores

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