COLONIE — A Rensselaer County woman filed a lawsuit against the town and its Police Department for claims officers first violated her civil rights and then beat her up.
According to the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court, the woman, who The Spotlight is referring to as only Jane, she was pulled over on May 27, 2018 while driving in St. Patrick’s Cemetery at around 8:45 p.m.
She claims she was doing nothing wrong but pulled over to a grassy spot but did not have her license but recited the nine-digit number from memory. She was told “that would not work,” according to the lawsuit and other officers arrived at the scene.
Her attorney, Trevor Hannigan, said the woman was in the cemetery visiting her parents. Prior to that, the woman’s aunt called police asking they check on her niece’s welfare. He also said the aunt was at the cemetery as police were taking her into custody.
“A violent exchange occurred where two officers attempted to rip [Jane] out of the car, she was thrown on the ground and handcuffed behind her back,” the lawsuit states. “As a result of being thrown to the ground by police officers, [Jane] suffered bruises to the entire right side of her body, including her shoulder, arm and legs.
“As a result of the officer’s illegal stop, seizure and detention of [Jane] she suffered physical injuries … and psychological trauma as the result of the encounter and her force hospitalization at Samaritan Hospital.”
Hannigan said staff at Samaritan evaluated her and released her later that night.
The lawsuit claims police violated [Jane’s] Fourth and 14th Amendment protections.
The Fourth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution prohibits police from using excessive force, which the lawsuit claims Colonie officers used when they “ripped [Jane] out of her vehicle and slammed her to the ground causing injuries.”
Furthermore, the lawsuit claims “The Town of Colonie and the Colonie Police Department have a history of misconduct in their department and a history of ignoring or failing to properly address and punish any alleged misconduct.”
“This practice of looking the other way, failing to take corrective action and failing to impose additional training and supervision in the face of numerous and grievous violations of citizens’ Constitutional rights throughout the last several years directly paved the way for the attack on [Jane],” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says the department does have policies and procedures in place to deal with those in need of mental health assistance and those were not followed on the night of May 27, 2018.
“Upon information and belief, said policy requires the officers to directly confront the individual in a way so as to subdue the individual, not damage their face and or body by being ripped from the vehicle and slamming them head first into the ground,” according to the lawsuit. “Upon information and belief … officers, in direct violation of both Town of Colonie and Colonie Police Department policy and their training ripped a woman from her car and threw her on the ground and handcuffed her behind her back.”
Also, the lawsuit says the officers, who are not named in the suit, broke state law and assaulted [Jane.]
“If police treated people a little differently we would not be where we are right now,” Hannigan said, adding they are prepared to go to trial.
The lawsuit is asking for a jury to determine compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.
Mike Magguilli, the town attorney said there will not be a settlement and the town is prepared to defend the actions of its officers.
“We are going to litigate it,” he said. “There will not be a settlement. We looked at what our officers did and we fully support their actions.”