By Mikaela Porter, Hartford Courant
Published: January 20, 2017
Town councilors have decided to settle two more lawsuits filed against former K-9 police officer Matthew Worden, accused in 11 federal lawsuits of police brutality. Four lawsuits have already been settled.
Terms of the settlements were not disclosed due to an agreement between the town and the town's insurance provider, the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, Town Manager Bryan R. H. Chodkowski, said. He said the town will pay $25,000 to the provider for each settlement.
At a council meeting Tuesday night, councilors voted 6-4-1 to settle a lawsuit filed by resident Barbara Crowley. Deputy Mayor Bill Lee, councilors Carol Hall, Michael Ludwick, Donna Szewczak, Tom Arnone and Joe Bosco voted in favor of settling. Mayor Scott Kaupin, councilors Liz Davis, William 'Red' Edgar and Gina Cekala voted against it and councilor Ed Deni abstained from voting.
According to court records, Crowley went to the Mount Carmel Society Hall on Park Avenue in December 2011 to pick up balloons left at one of the banquet rooms from the night before. A woman hosting bingo at the hall told her the room was left messy and eventually called police.
When Crowley attempted to go outside and check on her son in the car, Worden, she said, "suddenly and violently grabbed" her and she was eventually taken to the ground and put into handcuffs. She was charged with breach of peace, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer. Those charges were dropped after she completed a pretrial diversionary program, the lawsuit said.
Crowley in a lawsuit filed in September 2015, said she suffered "numerous physical injuries ... some or all of which are permanent in nature ... a fractured tibia plateau of the right knee; a deep bone bruise on the right knee; a torn right ACL and PCL; a torn radial collateral ligament of the right elbow; and a torn tendon of the right elbow."
In the second settlement vote, this time in the case of Christopher McDaniel, councilors voted 7-4 to settle. Deni, Hall, Lee, Szewczak, Arnone, and Bosco voted to settle and Davis, Edgar, Kaupin, and Cekala voted against it.
Before the vote, Hall said: "Just for the record, I think it needs to be said that none of us want to vote for these particular law settlements. Unfortunately, you know without revealing any personal or executive session things, we do realize that some of these would cost the town more money than we're voting to settle for, so financially it makes sense to do, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't leave a bad taste in our mouth. I don't think there's one person that's sitting on this dais that wants to vote for any of these so I want to make that perfectly clear."
Arnone echoed Hall's comments and said: "I believe it's the right thing for the taxpayers at this point. It's going to be the most financially sound thing to do in the long run."
McDaniel claimed that when police arrested him on Dec. 1, 2013 in the Sylvia's Restaurant parking lot in Thompsonville, police used excessive force and he suffered multiple injuries to his left leg, thigh and ankle with related nerve damage and scarring.
He said he also had injuries to his face, back and neck and and now suffers from emotional distress, psychological pain and suffering and post-traumatic stress disorder, court records said.
McDaniel was arrested on a warrant for violation of probation that stemmed from a forgery arrest. A resisting arrest charge against McDaniel was later dropped when his case went to court.
The town fired Worden in October 2014, though his status was later changed to resigned as part of an agreement between the town and police union. As part of the agreement, the town gave Worden $10,000 to drop a grievance against the town. He was allowed to resign and he agreed to cooperate with attorneys defending the town against the series of police lawsuits.