West Hartford of­fi­cer wins rul­ing in ap­peal over ac­tions used to sub­due deaf boy

Hartford Courant - - Front Page - By Dave Collins Associated Press

Judge rules West Hartford cop jus­ti­fied in stun-gun in­ci­dent.

HARTFORD – A Connecticut po­lice of­fi­cer who used a stun gun on a 12-year-old deaf boy at his school acted rea­son­ably and can­not be sued by the boy’s par­ents for ex­ces­sive force be­cause of gov­ern­ment im­mu­nity, a fed­eral ap­peals court ruled Fri­day.

The 2nd U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in New York de­cided in fa­vor of now-re­tired West Hartford of­fi­cer Paul Gion­friddo, who ap­pealed a lower court judge’s de­nial of his re­quest to dis­miss the claims against him in the par­ents’ law­suit. The ap­peals court over­turned the lower court and or­dered it to is­sue a judg­ment for Gion­friddo.

“It was the en­tirely cor­rect re­sult,” Gion­friddo’s lawyer, Scott Karsten, said of the rul­ing. “The of­fi­cer was con­fronted with a very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion and han­dled it prop­erly.”

Gion­friddo and an­other of­fi­cer re­sponded to the Amer­i­can School for the Deaf in West Hartford in April 2013 when school of­fi­cials re­ported the boy had as­saulted a teacher dur­ing a dis­pute over a take­out food or­der. School of­fi­cials say the boy hit the teacher with a stick and rocks out­side the school.

Po­lice said they or­dered the boy to drop a large rock and warned him they would use a stun gun if he didn’t. Teach­ers at the school trans­lated the of­fi­cers’ com­mands and warn­ings in sign lan­guage to the boy, who po­lice say ig­nored of­fi­cers’ or­ders.

Gion­friddo shot the boy once with stun gun wires and ad­min­is­tered elec­troshock for five sec­onds, but of­fi­cers couldn’t get the boy hand­cuffed, po­lice said. With the wires still stuck in the stu­dent, Gion­friddo de­ployed a sec­ond elec­troshock that al­lowed of­fi­cers to get the hand­cuffs on, of­fi­cials said.

The boy, known only as “A.M.” in court doc­u­ments, claimed he was de­fend­ing him­self after a teacher as­saulted him. He also de­nied re­ceiv­ing and un­der­stand­ing the teach­ers’ sign lan-

guage in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the po­lice com­mands.

“Of­fi­cer Gion­friddo ... had a rea­son­able ba­sis to be­lieve that A.M. posed a threat to him­self or the other staff mem­bers,” a three-judge panel of the ap­peals court wrote. “Of­fi­cer Gion­friddo had a rea­son­able ba­sis to be­lieve that his in­struc­tions and warn­ings were be­ing con­veyed to A.M. and that A.M. was ig­nor­ing them.”

An­drew Rozyn­ski and Eric Baum, New York-based lawyers for the boy’s par­ents, said in a state­ment that Fri­day’s rul­ing “could set a dan­ger­ous prece­dent that gives po­lice of­fi­cers the op­por­tu­nity to use ex­ces­sive force with­out ac­count­abil­ity for their ac­tions.”

Rozyn­ski said they were con­sid­er­ing whether to ap­peal the rul­ing and noted they still have pend­ing claims in state court against Gion­friddo and the town of West Hartford.

This is a big house — the 15,000 square­foot res­i­dence in­cludes 19 rooms, 9 fire­places and 9 bath­rooms. It once had a grass ten­nis court. The home is listed on the Na­tional Regis­ter of His­toric Places.

Mal­loy and his wife have lived in the man­sion for the past eight years, but gover­nors don’t al­ways make it their home. Gov. M. Jodi Rell did not make it her

The Mal­loys have an ex­ten­sive per­sonal col­lec­tion of Christ­mas or­na­ments. The home will also dis­play Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions sup­plied by small busi­nesses and farm­ers. A number of sea­sonal trees, plants and wreaths have been do­nated by Jones Fam­ily Farms in Shel­ton and the Connecticut Green­house Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. Through­out each day, school groups will per­form, in­clud­ing a capella singing groups from the Univer­sity of Hartford, Trin­ity and UConn.

Tours are free. Do­na­tions to Op­er­a­tion E.L.F., an ini­tia­tive that as­sists mil­i­tary fam­i­lies in need, will be ac­cepted. Fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions may be made payable to the Connecticut Na­tional Guard Foun­da­tion, Inc. (in the memo field please write “Op­er­a­tion E.L.F.”). Do­na­tions of gift cards and other ser­vices, such as fuel oil, snow re­moval, and home main­te­nance are also needed.

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