SCHENECTADY – Schenectady County has agreed to pay more than $500,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed last year by a man who sustained multiple injuries after allegedly being beaten by a jail officer nearly two years ago.
John Mannarino, who filed the lawsuit against Sheriff Dominic Dagostino, officer Eugene Sellie and Sgt. Timothy Bruce, will receive $562,500 under a settlement agreement reached with the county last month. The lawsuit was originally seeking $2.5 million in damages.
The suit stems from allegations dating to Nov. 9, 2020. Mannarino appeared in Niskayuna Town Court that day and was ordered to be released on misdemeanor charges for a domestic incident, but was instead taken into custody by the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office and transported to the county jail.
While at the jail, Sellie refused to call the town court to straighten the matter out, instead bringing Mannarino into an unsupervised room within the facility. The officer then allegedly beat Mannarino, causing multiple injuries, including a broken clavicle, multiple broken ribs, a collapsed lung and other internal injuries, according to the allegations.
Mannarino was then released from the jail, where he collapsed on a sidewalk, unable to breath. He was later discovered by a pair of probation officers and was taken to Ellis Hospital, where he underwent surgery that included plates and 12 screws inserted into his shoulders, according to the lawsuit.
Bruce was named in the lawsuit because he allegedly heard the beating but did not intervene. Both officers have since been terminated and have arbitration hearings pending the outcome of criminal trials, according to county Attorney Chris Gardner.
The Times Union first reported the settlement Monday afternoon.
Kevin Luibrand, an attorney for Mannarino, said his client should have never been in police custody and officers forced an injured Mannarino from the jail without providing proper medical care.
“A local judge directed that John be released without posting bail on a local court misdemeanor charge. Instead, County Sheriff staff brought John back to Schenectady County jail where he was later assaulted, without provocation, by a guard in earshot of other staff who did not intervene,” Luibrand said in a statement. “Officers then sent him out into the street late at night without providing any medical care where he was later found injured on a sidewalk near the jail unable to breath by two passing probation officers.”
Gardner said the county’s insurer will pay a bulk of the settlement, leaving the county to cover a $50,000 deductible.
Bruce faces two misdemeanor charges of official misconduct. Sellie, meanwhile, faces two counts each of felony assault and official misconduct. Both men have maintained their innocence.
Gardner said it’s unclear when the criminal cases will go to trial, which he said were delayed due to the emergence of the COVID pandemic.
“We believe there was misconduct by these two employees, and in particular Mr. Sellie, and we believe this is a fair outcome of the civil litigation,” Gardner said. “We don’t enjoy paying it, but we understand that certain actions can result in liability and this is, we believe, a fair outcome for all involved.”
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.