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Couple Plan To Sue. Over Arrest

By MIKAELA PORTER mmporter@courant.com
Published: April 18,, 2016

ENFIELD - A couple from South Carolina arrested outside Enfield High School last month filed a notice of intent to sue the town and the police department, including the police chief and a number of individual officers.

The couple's presence at John F. Kennedy Middle School on March 23 prompted school administrators to put the school into "secure status" and cancel after-school activities. Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann sent a roughly two-minute voice recording to all parents of students in the district, calling it a "potentially dangerous situation ... that was averted."

On March 29, Enfield Superior Court Judge John F Mulcahy Jr dismissed the criminal case The notice of intent to sue was dated Monday and filed with the Enfield town clerk Thursday.

Hartford attorney A. Paul Spinella is representing Daniel B. Demers and his wife, Edith Mandujano-Demers.

"This is a case that two innocent outsiders, someone who actually grew up in town, who made this huge mistake of entering the military zone that is the town of Enfield," Spinella said Friday. "Our position is that this isn't a police department in any normal sense - it's a wolf pack that's been preying on its own citizens for over a decade."

Spinella represents 14 clients who have filed lawsuits against the town and police department.

The notice of intent to sue names the town of Enfield, the Enfield Police Department, police Chief Carl Sferrazza and six individual officers It also refers to another police department member identified only as "John Doe #1."

"The bigger issue here is what is to be done about this department; this is a department without accountability," Spinelia said. "There's many, many people that've been wronged by this department and this couple is the most recent example."

On March 23, the Demers couple, both from Summerville, S.C., were driving through New England for vacation, they said in a previous interview with The Courant, making various stops throughout Connecticut before stopping in Enfield. Daniel Demers grew up in Enfield and graduated from Enfield High School in 1975.

Demers said he stopped at JFK Middle School and was there "for all of two minutes."

Teachers at JFK told administrators that a man, Demers, was "pounding on the door" of a side entrance trying to get into the school, Sferrazza said at the time Daniel Demers said the claims police and teachers made were "exaggerated"

Administrators said a woman had a camera and what appeared to be binoculars, Sferrazza said Demers said they didn't have a set of binoculars in the car but his wife was taking pictures as they traveled.

The couple continued traveling around town, ultimately stopping at Enfield High School.

"When we got there, administration descended upon us, so we got out [of the car] and explained," Daniel Demers said "They were obviously nervous, they said they were on the lookout for our car. I wouldn't have imagined our visit would cause that much concern."

Daniel Demers said about eight police cars arrived shortly, and he told police that he grew up in town and was showing his wife, around. Daniel Demers said police searched him and his wife without permission, then searched their car without permission.

A police sergeant arrived and they were arrested, Daniel Demers said. The couple said police were "rough" with them.

Town attorney Christopher Bromson declined to comment on the case Friday because it was pending litigation.

Sferrazza could not be reached for comment Friday.

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