By JONATHAN SHUGARTS, REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
WATERBURY — An attorney for a 15-year-old boy who claimed police beat him with a stun gun is suing city police and the city.
The suit, filed in Waterbury Superior Court, also claims police were negligent by keeping the officer on the force after he had been fired from the department in 2004, then rehired in 2008. The litigation demands an unspecified amount in damages.
Police say that Julian Goodman, whom they referred to as a juvenile suspect, was in a stolen Ford Taurus that came to a stop on Interstate 84 on May 31 while police were following it. Goodman, along with two other teens, bailed out of the car.
During a foot chase, police say, Goodman ran from officer Michael Sabol and repeatedly ignored commands to stop.
Goodman and the officer have different versions of the events that occurred next.
Sabol reported he chased Goodman until he caught up to the teen on a steep, rocky hillside, but the suspect pulled away and fell, he reported. Sabol used a Taser to stun Goodman after shouting that he was going to use the device, according to police.
The Taser didn't affect Goodman, even after a second, close-up shock, according to Sabol's report.
Goodman continued to pull away from the officer and was pulling him down the hillside, he stated. Sabol reported giving the teen an elbow strike to his body, which brought him under control. He also stated the teen was injured during the pursuit.
In an interview with the Republican-American earlier this year, Goodman said he was hiding behind a rock near an antique shop during the chase.
When he tried to sneak away, he said, the officer came after him and he slid into a tree, hitting it with his legs. He said he was on the ground with his hands up when he was zapped with the stun gun without warning, but admitted that he didn't feel the first shock.
Goodman, a skinny teen who has been arrested in the past, went on to say the officer was "pounding" on his face with the Taser after he was on the ground.
He blacked out at some point and had blood in his eyes, he said. While he was handcuffed, the same officer stepped on his finger while he asked him questions, then pivoted while standing on him, he claimed.
Paul Spinella, a Hartford-based attorney for Goodman's family, said the teen is receiving ongoing treatment for his injuries, which included large bruises, multiple lacerations and a severe cut to his ear. His ear still needs to be repaired, he said.
"For a young kid like that, it's pretty traumatic," Spinella said. "It's an unarmed kid who had surrendered himself."
The suit claims the injuries have left Goodman with scars and emotional distress, among other injuries.
Police Chief Vernon Riddick Jr. is also named in the suit, which claims he was negligent in hiring and supervising Sabol because he should have known that he was unfit for duty.
Sabol has been the focus of past discipline by the department. He was fired in 2004 after he was charged with assaulting a Naugatuck man during an off-duty incident at a party, but he was rehired in 2008 after settling a grievance that claimed his termination was excessive.
Riddick wasn't chief at the time Sabol was rehired.
Three "John Doe" officers are also included as defendants, but their names aren't listed in the suit, which claims they failed to intervene during the alleged assault on Goodman.
Riddick said an internal investigation of Goodman's allegations, which began in June, is ongoing. He declined to comment on the suit.