|Framingham Police, town targeted in lawsuit||June 2, 2012|
|Norman Miller 508-626-3823||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- A former Framingham couple who claim that a Framingham Police sergeant pointed a gun at the husband and threatened him has filed a federal suit against him, the town, two other Framingham officers and a Boston officer.
Jorge Correia and Cathleen Runnals, formerly of Framingham, have filed an 18-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the town, Sgt. Scott Brown, Framingham Police Officers Dinis Avila and Brian Blue and Boston Police Officer Michael Stratton.
The suit was originally filed earlier this month in Middlesex Superior Court, but it was later refiled in federal court.
The suit alleges that Brown indecently assaulted Runnals and assaulted her husband, Correia on April 29, 2010.
It also alleges that Brown and Blue "conspired to cover up the assaults," and that "Brown, Avila and Stratton further conspired to intimidate" the couple by appearing at their home and place of work. The suit was filed by the couple's lawyers, John R. Bita and Rory Delaney.
Brown, of Mendon, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and threatening to commit a crime. He was cleared after a seven-day trial in Middlesex Superior Court in Lowell.
The suit said that on April 29, 2010, Brown went to the E.Z. Storage facility, at 501 Cochituate Road, and urinated at the end of the driveway. Runnals and Correia both worked and lived at the facility.
Runnals confronted Brown about urinating and "Brown, turned around, his penis on display, and told plaintiff Runnals that she should not be looking," the suit said.
After, when Brown tried to leave, he was confronted by Correia. After Correia refused to move, "Brown held a gun in his outstretched hand and told Correia to get out of the way or get shot," the suit said.
Brown has denied pulling his weapon.
The couple immediately called the police, and Blue responded, but never took a report.
"The only person to whom Blue reported the incident was the alleged assailant, defendant Brown," the suit alleged.
The couple decided to forget about the incident, but became worried when the same unmarked police SUV pulled into the driveway on May 3. It was driven by Avila. In their suit, the couple alleges that was to intimidate them.
Avila testified during Brown's trial that he made a mistake, meaning to turn into the driveway next to the E.Z. Storage to pick up food at a restaurant.
The suit also said Stratton also tried to intimidate the couple by pulling into the lot on May 25. Stratton, at the trial, said he accidentally pulled into the lot, meaning to pull into the lot of a nearby pool company, and only turned around. The suit also claimed that another Framingham Police cruiser, with an unknown driver, pulled into the lot on May 31, again with the intent to intimidate Correia and Runnals.
In all, the suit alleges 12 different counts, including federal and state civil rights violations against Brown and the town, as well as conspiracy and the intentional infliction of emotional distress against the couple.
Correia and Runnals, who said they left the job and the state because of harassment, are seeking compensatory damages for back pay, loss of future earnings and seniority. They also want money for emotional distress, mental suffering, physical ill-health and an award for punitive damages.
No response from the town or any of the Framingham officers have been filed with the court. Stratton's lawyer, Lisa Skehill Maki, has filed a response, denying all allegations against her client.
Framingham Police Chief Steven Carl declined to comment yesterday, referring comment to town attorney Christopher Petrini, who referred comments to the law firm representing the town and the officers.
Attorney Thomas Donohue said he hopes to file a response for the town, Brown, Avila and Blue next week. He said he expects the same results as the criminal trial.
"Our client was exonerated at the first trial, and he will be exonerated again," said Donohue. "He has been fully vindicated, and he will be fully vindicated again."
The selectmen are scheduled to discuss the lawsuit during executive session at their meeting on Tuesday.
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