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Danbury - Police face

"excessive force" suit

Posted on Oct 12 2007

Danbury – Videotapes from surveillance camera at the Danbury Police Department are expected to be used in a civil suit against the city that alleges the Department used “excessive force” against a 21-year-old Bethel man arrested in May on motor vehicle charges.

Hartford attorney Paul Spinella said Thursday that in those tapes his client Jacob Kramer was subjected to “physical attack” by police officers inside a holding cell while other officers looked on.

“It’s pretty shocking,” Spinella said in an interview with The News-Times, “The arrogance of it almost takes your breath away. They knew they were being filmed. It’s almost as if they didn’t care.”

In September, Spinella filed his client’s intent to sue the city and the police department for physical and psychological damages.

He alleges Kramer’s constitutional and civil rights have been violated.

“The video recordings reveal multiple police officers knowingly and intentionally acting in disregard of law and constitutional guarantee,” Spinella wrote.

Spinella claims the tapes show one police officer slamming Kramer’s head on the concrete wall and floor of the cell and another attacking him, swearing at him and threatening him.

“Approximately four other officers from the Danbury Police Department stood and watched, all failing to intervene stop the physical attack occurring in their presence,” Spinella wrote in his client’s notice of intent to sue.

A WTNH Channel 8 report of the allegations Wednesday night claimed the videotapes also showed one officer placing his firearm on a desk, picking up a taser and entering the cell.

The report noted that the taser was never used, bur Kramer, who had been ordered to sit down, was “visibly shaken.”

In a Channel 8 Interview, Danbury police spokesman Capt Robert Myles, denied any assault happened.

“Not much of an altercation took place,” Myles said in the interview.” The guy was asked to sit down. The officer entered the block. He (Kramer) was placed on the bench.”

“We are an open police department,” Myles said. “I think we have an outstanding track record in treating people correctly with proper police procedures.”

Kramer’s entanglement with the law began shortly before 8 pm May 4 in the Mill Ridge Plaza parking lot on Mill Ridge Road, Danbury, while he was operating a blue Aero Cobra.

According to Police Officer Isaiah Pitts, who was a patrol at another nearby parking lot, Kramer began spinning the rear tires of his car before accelerating “at a fast pace” out of the lot and into the road.

Pitts reported that as Kramer’s car slid across the double yellow line into the opposite traffic lane, a driver in that lane had to slam on his car’s brakes to avoid a collision.

When Kramer was later stopped by Pitts on Mill Ridge Road and asked about his driving, Kramer allegedly told Pitts “his foot slipped on the gas pedal.”

Inside the car, Pitts said he saw a cigar he knew was commonly used for smoking marijuana and that there was also a passenger. The passenger was later identified as Kyle Kaucher, 22, of Division Street, Danbury.

Pitts said Kramer, who did not have his driver’s license with him, was charged and then driven away by a back-up officer.

Pitts arrested Kaucher after finding a small amount of marijuana in the sleeve of the passenger door.

According to Pitts, Kramer was verbally abusive on his was to the police department, where he was placed in a holding cell but refused to sit down.

Pitts’ account indicated that as one officer went to handcuff Kramer to the bench, an altercation developed between them and the fell to the ground. Three other officers went to the booking room after hearing the commotion and seeing it on cameras at the front desk.

“Kramer started co-operating after being advised he would be tased,” Pitts wrote in his incident report. “Kramer was handcuffed to the bench. During the altercation, Kramer received a laceration over his ear.”

In addition to Kramer’s other physical injuries, Spinella said his client has suffered “emotional distress, anxiety and depression.”

In July, Kramer was fined $90 after pleading guilty to not carrying an operator’s license that night. Three other charges of reckless driving and failing to carrying a registration and insurance card were nolled.

On Thursday, Kramer said he would not comment on the case without his attorney present.

Kaucher, who lived on Division Street, pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana and could not be reached Thursday night.

by: Brian Saxton