A new federal lawsuit carries allegations that an off-duty Schenectady police officer used excessive force against a teenage theft suspect, causing a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Albany Thursday seeking unspecified damages.
It was filed by Robin Miller and Mark A. Miller, parents of the suspect. The youth, who was 16 at the time, is identified only by his initials, S.A.M.
According to paperwork filed in the case and the Millers’ attorney, Paul Wein, the teenager had been drinking with friends early on Dec. 12, 2010, when they decided to steal beer from the Hannaford on Consaul Road in Niskayuna.
The suspect ran from the store with the beer but was chased down by off-duty Schenectady officer John Favata, according to the allegations.
Favata caught up with the teen after the teen dropped the beer. Then, according to Wein, the off-duty officer picked the teen up over his shoulder and “slams him head-first into the asphalt.”
The suit calls the force used excessive. Wein emphasized the difference in size between the officer and the teen, calling it “outrageous.”
Wein also said the teen acknowledges that what he did in taking the beer was wrong. He was charged with petty larceny and resisting arrest. The outcome of the case is sealed due to his age.
“The penalty for boosting a six-pack of beer is not a fractured skull and an intercranial brain bleed,” Wein said. “It was so out of line, what this guy did.”
The suit names as defendants Favata, the city, the city police department, the town of Niskayuna, the Niskayuna police and Niskayuna police officers Todd Frenyea and Michael Stevens.
The Niskayuna officers are accused in the suit of ignoring the teen’s injuries, causing a delay in treatment.
City officials said they had yet to be served with the suit and couldn’t comment. Niskayuna officials couldn’t be reached.
Wein said the teen ended up in intensive care for a couple of days. He continues to suffer headaches and continues to be monitored.
Wein also said he had two conversations with city police internal affairs officers in early 2011 related to the allegations. He did not know the status of any investigation there.
City Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett and Police Chief Mark Chaires were unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.