Video Helps Officers Win Excessive Force Suit
Hartford attorney Alan Dembiczak said video from a police cruiser dashboard camera showed a suspect 'desperate' to escape and no evidence of excessive force by officers.
Lamar McCarthy v. City of Hartford et al.: A federal jury recently sided with three Hartford police officers who were accused of using excessive force when arresting a man who had led them on a high-speed chase.
According to police, on August 1, 2008 at 3:45 a.m., Lamont "Lamar" McCarthy, 32, of Hartford, was spotted running a red light at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Vine Street. Hartford detective Anthony Pia pulled over McCarthy and was about to get out of his police cruiser when McCarthy sped off. That started a high-speed chase that wound up on Windsor Avenue where McCarthy crashed his car. The vehicle belonged to his ex-girlfriend who had not given him permission to drive it that night.
Police claim they later recovered a gun and a ski mask in McCarthy's vehicle.
A lawyer representing the Hartford police officers, Alan Dembiczak, of Howd & Ludorf, in Hartford, said that at one point during the chase, Pia lost site of McCarthy's car, but he turned down Windsor Avenue on a hunch and spotted McCarthy's crashed vehicle. McCarthy then ran off, and a new chase began, this one on foot. A tow truck happened to drive by; McCarthy attempted to get in the passenger side door but was unsuccessful.
At that point, Pia caught up with him again. The detective tried using mace to subdue McCarthy but the wind blew much of the spray into Pia's eyes, Dembiczak said.
Next, McCarthy ran back towards the police cruiser. Pia claims McCarthy tried to smash out a window and steal the cruiser. Meanwhile, the suspect claims he simply ran into the window and fell.
Another struggle ensued. Oddly enough, the tow truck slowly drove by again. McCarthy once again tried to hop on the truck and get inside. As Pia tried to stop him, the passenger door swung open and struck the detective in the face, causing him to fall to the ground.
By this time, two other officers arrived to the scene — Steven Citta and Jay Szepanski. They were able to pull McCarthy away from the tow truck and arrest him. "It took three or four officers to get him into handcuffs," said Dembiczak.
Detective Pia suffered some bumps and bruises but was otherwise OK, Dembiczak noted.