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Rotterdam police court case settled at $18K

Couple filed claim after being wrongly detained in 2005 drug raid

The town has reached a settlement with a couple who tipped police off about suspected drug activity and found themselves swept up in the raid.

The Rotterdam Town Board on Wednesday, July 14, approved an $18,000 settlement in a case stemming from an incident five years ago in which a couple staying in a camper in the driveway of a home at 2627 Van Dyke Ave. were detained during a search of the house.

The settlement in the 2006 federal lawsuit Berard et al. v Town of Rotterdam was accepted Wednesday, July 21.

In the summer of 2005, Rotterdam police were investigating drug activity at the Van Dyke Avenue address and had the home under surveillance. Confidential informants had three times made drug purchases at the residence.

After police obtained a search warrant, the Emergency Response Team conducted an early-morning raid and proceeded to the second floor and detained the suspects in question. Once the house was cleared, police knocked on the door of Robert Berard and Gail Hudson's camper, located in the driveway of the residence.

Berard exited the camper first, followed by Hudson, and both were taken into custody and arrested. A police officer pepper-sprayed their St. Bernard dog while removing the couple.

[Berard and Hudson] had alerted the police to the drug activity in the house, said the couple's attorney Youel "Trey" Smith. "Even withstanding those facts, the police had the right to clear the camper to conduct the search of the house without any threat from the camper."

According to court documents, police officers charged in the lawsuit were told Berard and Hudson were not suspected in the trafficking of illegal drugs, and the camper wasn't within the "scope of the warrant."

All charges were eventually dropped against Berard and Hudson on a recommendation from the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office. Shortly afterwards, the couple filed claims of assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, defamation, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violating rights guaranteed by the first, fourth, fifth, eighth and 14th amendments.

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