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Saratoga woman sues city over son's death

Saratoga woman sues city over son's death

City police chased Daryl Mount Jr. last year because of his ethnicity and then used “excessive force

City police chased Daryl Mount Jr. last year because of his ethnicity and then used “excessive force” to cause injuries that ultimately led to his death last spring, according to a lawsuit filed by his mother Tuesday.

Patty Jackson claims city police violated her son’s civil rights by pursuing him on Aug. 31, 2013. The five-page action naming the city of Saratoga Springs claims Mount, 22, suffered “severe facial injuries, fractures and brain damage” from pre-dawn chase. The suit does not specify any monetary demand.

“The actions of the police officers were reckless, abusive and constituted an excessive use of force and were an assault on the person of the decedent,” states the lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court of Saratoga County.

Mount’s family filed a notice of claim against the city last year and had until the end of the week to formally file a lawsuit. Attorney Robert Katzman said the legal action against the city will likely evolve from the “bare bones” lawsuit filed this week and will ultimately become a federal action, since it alleges a civil rights violation occurred.

“Any time that someone is treated the way this young man was treated, it’s a violation of civil rights,” he said.

Katzman claims city police targeted Mount and used an incident that occurred between him and his girlfriend on Caroline Street as an excuse to chase him “without any cause.” He said the police account of Mount striking and injuring his girlfriend seems dubious, considering their apparent lack of concern for the woman after he started running.

“Nobody even went to check on her — nobody,” he said. “Not until after Daryl was injured.”

Katzman said the girlfriend —whom he did not name and was not identified in a trove of documents released by the city last summer — refused medical attention afterward. He said police didn’t even initially alert her to the extent of Mount’s injuries.

The lawsuit mentions nothing of Mount’s apparent two-story fall from a scaffold behind the Washington building on Broadway. City police contend they chased Mount through an alley before he disappeared onto the scaffold, only to locate him after he fell.

John Asplund, the attorney advising the city on the case, hadn’t yet seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

Incident reports indicated police had contact with Mount earlier in the evening, when a woman accused him of slapping another woman near Club 13, a bar on Caroline Street. Mount was found walking on Broadway near Caroline Street a short time later, denied the incident and told police he was headed home.

After the second altercation outside the Tin N’ Lint, police were prepared to arrest Mount on charges of third-degree attempted assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, according to incident reports. Officers also believed Mount to be impaired at the time and that he either pushed or slammed the body of the woman, whom he is identified as dating.

Mount plummeted two stories down to an alley behind Gaffney’s Restaurant, suffering injuries that left him severely handicapped. Jackson cared for him for months until he died from complications arising from his injuries.

“There’s no amount that can even compensate someone for this,” Katzman said. “She took care of her son 24-7 for eight months.”

Katzman said the lawsuit will also help the family finally get answers in the case. Though an extensive amount of documentation was publicized in June and was followed by the release of surveillance video last month, Katzman believes there’s more to be told once officers are under oath.

“There was an awful lot of circling of the wagons during this thing,” he said. “I think a lot more is going to come out … the family needs to know what happened.”

Katzman said the city could have also avoided the lawsuit by simply conducting an independent investigation. Though police probed the incident, city officials declined to call on an independent investigator.

“If the police commissioner had agreed to an independent investigation, this all could have been avoided a year ago,” he said. “But instead, they stonewalled it from the beginning.”

Jackson said her son’s injury and death has left her emotionally distraught and jaded over the state of affairs throughout the country. She said news of other incidents involving excessive police force — both locally and nationally — have only compounded her heartache over her son’s death.

“I’m just disgusted about society in general,” she said. “This is a sad world we live in.”

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