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Settlement reached in Schenectady excessive force suit

Settlement reached in Schenectady excessive force suit

Three claim officers kicked and punched them
Settlement reached in Schenectady excessive force suit
A Schenectady police car on Albany Street in May 2016.
Photographer: Erin K. O'Neill

Attorneys involved in a lawsuit from three people claiming Schenectady police officers punched, kicked and used a police dog on them without justification have come to a settlement agreement, federal records show.

Details of the settlement are not included in federal records, but are expected to be available next month, if the Schenectady City Council approves the settlement. Records indicate the sides came to the agreement April 4.

Both City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico and the attorney for the three who sued, E. Robert Keach, separately declined to comment on the agreement this past week.

The three filed suit in federal court in Albany, alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution and excessive force.

The three claimed that city officers attacked them in January 2014 after one of the three, identified as Joseph Toomer, questioned why an officer looking for someone who had fled continued shining a flashlight in his face.

The lawsuit, filed by Keach in April 2016, quoted that officer as telling Toomer to "get your [expletive] black [expletive] over here because I'm going to [expletive] you up."

The lawsuit said that Toomer retreated into his family's apartment and several officers barged in after him after other family members tried to prevent them from entering.

The lawsuit claimed officers punched and kicked all three, used a police dog on Toomer as he lay in a fetal position on the sidewalk and a taser three times on Toomer's nephew Manuel Toomer, who suffered a broken nose.

The suit included pictures identifying multiple dog bite marks on Joseph Toomer and Manuel Toomer's bloodied face.

The three sought unspecified damages. Named as plaintiffs were Joseph Toomer, then 39 of Albany, his sister Dodie Toomer, then 43, and Dodie Toomer's son Manuel Toomer, both of Schenectady. Dodie Toomer also suffered injuries, the suit read.

Named as defendants in the case were the city of Schenectady and 15 separate city police officers.

All three of the Toomers were initially charged in the Jan. 23, 2014, incident at the family's Schenectady Street residence, accused of injuring three officers in a fight, according to court paperwork at the time.

One of the officers, Sgt. Christopher Scaccia, suffered a possible broken nose, according to court paperwork. Officer Michael Randle and Brandon Kietlinski suffered scrapes.

All three were among the 15 officers named as defendants in the suit and Scaccia was identified as the officer who first shined the flashlight on Joseph Toomer and allegedly threatened him.

Prosecutors didn't pursue the original felony assault charges against Joseph and Manuel Toomer, but misdemeanor charges against all three went to trial in City Court in early 2015. 

After a defense subpoena of the city uncovered audio and video recordings that should have been disclosed to the defense, the charges against Dodie Toomer were dismissed and Joseph and Manuel Toomer were allowed to plead guilty to violation disorderly conduct, the lawsuit reads.

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