|Framingham police officers settle lawsuit from man shocked with Taser||January 27, 2017|
|Jim Haddadin 617-863-7144||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM - Two Framingham police officers and a retired member of the department settl
ed a federal lawsuit alleging they used excessive force during a 2013 arrest.
Sgt. Vincent Stuart, Officer James Green and retired Officer Dolores Coots were named as defendants in the suit, which accused them of violating a former Framingham man's civil r ights when they took him into custody.
The April 30, 2013, incident began when the officers were called to a reported disturbanc e at 12 Torrey St., according to court records. An anonymous caller reported that a man w ho resides in the building was causing "real trouble" in a basement apartment.
James Roach, who had recently been released from state prison, was standing outside his m other's apartment building smoking a cigarette when the officers arrived around 9:35 p.m. The officers questioned him, and a struggle ensued after he refused to answer questions and moved to the laundry room inside the building, according to court records.
Stuart - who tore his rotator cuff during the incident - used his Taser gun on Roach's le g while officers were attempting to place him in custody, according to court records. Roa ch was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and ultimately found not gui lty.
Roach later sued the officers in Suffolk Superior Court, filing a handwritten complaint o n June 10, 2014. He was incarcerated in Plymouth County at the time. Roach sought several million dollars' worth of compensatory and punitive damages from the officers, accusing them of various civil rights violations.
The case was later moved to U.S. District Court in Boston. Judge Richard G. Stearns dismi ssed most of the claims last year, granting summary judgment to the officers on four of f ive counts included in the lawsuit. However, Stearns allowed Roach to proceed with allega tions that the officers ran afoul of federal law by using the Taser during the arrest.
"Here, there are legitimate disputes of fact about the degree of Roach's resistance to ar rest," he wrote, "the level of his hostility and combativeness towards the officers, whet her he presented an appreciable threat to the officers' safety or to others in the area, and whether the deployment of the Taser was appropriate under circumstances in which thre e officers confronted a single defendant."
The case was scheduled to proceed to a jury trial on Nov. 14, 2016. However, the matter w as dismissed after the parties reached a private settlement. Roach formally consented las t month to drop his claims.
Joseph A. Padolsky, the lawyer who represented the three officers, declined Friday to com ment on the terms of the settlement, saying only that the officers did not admit fault.
"They continue to maintain that they did everything right," he said.
Green and Stuart could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon. Coots, wh o retired in 2015, and now works part time as a civilian employee, called the lawsuit fri volous, saying the settlement was reached to spare the expense of a trial. She added that officers treated Roach with respect during the 2013 encounter.
"No one did anything wrong," she said, "but it's easier not to debate it, and I think tha t's exactly what happened in this case."
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