Of­fi­cer in stun-gun case wins ap­peal

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

HART­FORD, Conn. — 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.

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 lan­guage in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the po­lice com­mands.

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