Posted on Feb 22 2008
A 50-year-old resident is suing the town, police chief and three police officers involved in his April arrest on drunken driving charges despite tests by officers that showed he had no alcohol or drugs in his system.
In a four-count lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday, Harvey B. Leibin says his rights were violated when he was wrongly charged with driving under the influence and failing to drive in the proper lane. The charges were later dismissed in Superior Court in Hartford.
Leibin alleges that, as a result of the arrest, he suffered emotional distress, loss of reputation and standing, economic harm and lost business because of damage to his reputation, and “shock to his entire system, some of which injuries are permanent in nature.”
He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
“It appears the officer acted appropriately,” Avon Police Chief Mark Rinaldo said in response to the lawsuit, “I read the report, and it appeared to me there was probable cause.”
The arrest occurred about 10pm on April 13. An unidentified 911 caller reported driving behind an intoxicated driver in a dark sport utility vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
At the same time, Leibin was driving a 2007 Acura RDX on Route 44, Officer Gary Cruz subsequently pulled him over.
Cruz smelled a slight odor of alcohol on Leibin, noted that his eyes appeared red and glassy, and ordered Leibin to get out of his SUV and to perform filed sobriety tests, the suit states.
As Leibin was getting out of his car, Cruz noted that Leibin appeared to have difficulty with his door opener, and after administering sobriety tests, he determined that Leibin failed. Cruz then arrested Leibin, suit says.
But Leibin’s blood alcohol content registered zero on a breath test he subsequently took at the Canton Police Department. A urine test also showed that Leibin had no drugs in his system.
At the point, when Leibin asked Sgt. Kevin Fleming and Officer Jeffrey Gilbert why he was still being detained, he was told that “there was no way he could be unarrested” and released,” according to the suit.
In addition to the town and Rinaldo, Cruz, Fleming and Gilbert are the officers named as defendants in the lawsuit.
By: Katie Melone
Contact Katie Melone at kmelone(at)courant(dot)com