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Addona v. D'Andrea

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 19, 2016

GIOVANNI ADDONA, Plaintiff,
v.
JARED D'ANDREA, CHRISTOPHER DONSTON, and CHAD CONROY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          WARREN W. EGINTON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is an action by plaintiff Giovanni Addona against defendants Jared D'Andrea, Christopher Donston, and Chad Conroy, alleging unreasonable force and failure to intervene in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         Defendants have moved for summary judgment [ECF No. 35]. For the following reasons, defendants' motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are gleaned from the parties' statements of fact, affidavits, deposition transcripts, and other exhibit documentation, including a video of the encounter captured from a police body camera worn by one of the officers at the scene.

         On November 4, 2014, at 8:19 p.m., Sergeant Kurt Molnar and Officers Jared D'Andrea, Chad Conroy, and Christopher Donston of the Watertown Police Department were despatched to 283 Neill Drive, Watertown, Connecticut, in response to a complaint received from the Western Connecticut Mental Health Network (“WCMHN”).

         The officers received a report that plaintiff had called WCMHN and made what was perceived to be a threat of assault with a baseball bat to one of the WCMHN social workers.

         Upon arrival, Officer Donston activated his department issued body camera. Defendants assert that the entire encounter between the officers and plaintiff was video recorded. The Court examined that video, which includes audio.

         After the officers rang the front door bell, plaintiff walked out into the yard, where defendants explained the reason for their presence. Plaintiff responded that he had called the WCMHN that day to discuss his social security and disability benefits. The officers informed plaintiff that the WCMHN social workers were on their way to speak to him regarding his phone call and the perceived threat, to which plaintiff was amenable.

         Plaintiff then proceeded toward the rear entry door, but the officers ordered plaintiff to remain outside. Defendants contend that plaintiff disobeyed their commands, but plaintiff testified that he was “already not going” inside when he was grabbed from behind.

         The video supports defendants' version to the extent that it was unclear whether plaintiff would have obeyed defendants' orders to remain outside absent physical involvement by defendants.

         Defendants assert that as plaintiff was attempting to reenter the house, Officer Conroy grabbed plaintiff's right arm, and Officer Donston grabbed plaintiff's left arm, in order to prevent plaintiff from entering the residence. According to defendants, the officers moved plaintiff to a nearby wall, and other than a subsequent pat-down, the officers at the scene had no other physical contact with plaintiff. The video corroborates defendants' assertions, including the absence of any high-impact collisions.

         Nevertheless, plaintiff maintains that he was needlessly smashed against a brick wall and contends that he felt the bones in his neck crack as his chest hit the bricks. Plaintiff denies that the entire encounter was recorded. At deposition, plaintiff stated:

It doesn't show - it doesn't really show - it doesn't really show him pushing. It doesn't show the pushing and slamming; you know what I mean? The way I hit ...

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