Schenectady pays $250K to woman alleging body-slamming, getting knocked unconscious by city police


SCHENECTADY — The city has paid $250,000 to a woman who was injured after she claims a pair of city cops body-slammed her during her arrest, punched her in the face and later threw her into a wall at the city police station, knocking her unconscious.

The city reached the agreement between the victim, Vebra Moore, and Officers Matthew and Ryan Thorne, who are brothers, and then-Lt. Mark McCracken, who was named in his capacity as supervisor, on Aug. 13.

The incident unfolded on Oct. 17, 2015 when officers responded to a stabbing on Crane Street and took Moore into custody in the aftermath.

Moore was among the patrons cleared from the El Dorado bar following the police response.

She had attempted to re-enter the venue after losing her keys, and verbally sparred with officers outside. But after 90 seconds, Officer Ryan Thorne grabbed her arm and threw the 102-pound woman “chest first onto the hood of a police patrol car,” according to the lawsuit.

After Moore told him that her handcuffs had slipped off due to her slight stature, Thorne “body-slammed” her onto the pavement, where she landed on her knees and stomach.

He and his brother, Officer Matthew Thorne, then threw Moore into the patrol car, which further injured her knee when it struck the metal edge of the door, according to the claim.

Upon arrival at police headquarters, the Thornes deviated from department policy by bringing the limping suspect through the back door — not through areas monitored by cameras — where she fell on her knees and began screaming.

Ryan Thorne lifted her up by her handcuffs and dragged her to the holding cage before punching her in the face and slamming her on the floor, where he repeatedly punched her in the face and struck her with his knee, according to the claim.

Matthew then picked up Moore and slammed her head first into the wall, rendering her “insensible,” according to the lawsuit.

As a result, Moore had knee surgery, and received treatment for concussion and post-concussive syndrome.

The federal lawsuit filed by Moore in 2018 claimed excessive force, false arrest, illegal imprisonment and failure to intervene.

“At all times during the events described above, the Defendant police officers were engaged in a joint venture,” read the lawsuit.

Moore was charged with felony assault but acquitted of the top charge in a trial. She was, however, convicted of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.

Moore’s attorney, James Knox, did not return a phone call seeking comment on Monday.

Police Chief Eric Clifford said he is not familiar with the specifics of the encounter as it unfolded on Crane Street because he was not chief at the time.

But he did say Moore did cross over into the crime scene.

Moore bit Matthew Thorne’s finger after she collapsed during her transport to the holding cells and would not release it, which justified the use of force, Clifford said.

“It was that biting of his finger that forced him to take her to the ground,” Clifford said. “He actually had to push her head up against the fence area of our intake area in order to get her to release it.”

Video reveals the officers forcefully pushing Moore into the holding area, he acknowledged.

The altercation has led to internal reforms, Clifford said, and officers are now barred from bringing suspects in through the unmonitored areas, and must use the designated sally port.

Claims Committee Chair Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said she couldn’t disclose specifics of the agreement, which was discussed by lawmakers in executive session.

“We feel like we got to a fair and equitable situation,” Perazzo said. “These kinds of things are never easy to deal with.”

City attorney Andrew Koldin said on Monday the issue was “resolved without a finding of fact and without any admission of liability by the City.”

Matthew Thorne remains on the force, while Ryan Thorne transferred out two years ago. McCracken has since retired.

The settlement marks the second excessive force payout by the city in three months.

The city also paid $225,000 to Ramel Gentry last week after he was attacked by a K9 during his 2018 arrest on drug charges.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

One Comment

William Marincic

The police pay out because you have a weak coward city attorney and a weak and ineffective Mayor and City Council that are afraid to fight….. Newsflash…..Every criminal in Schenectady knows this and it hurts the city, the police department and the police themselves.

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