Judge Rejects Hartford's Motion To Dismiss Ex-Police Officer's Lawsuit
January 19, 2011
A judge has rejected the city's motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit brought by former police Det. Robert Lawlor.
Lawlor, while working on an investigation involving drugs and guns in 2005, shot two men as they sat in a car. Jashon Bryant, 18, was shot in the head and killed. Brandon Henry, 21, was shot in the chest, then drove away before crashing into a parked car several blocks away. Police recovered drugs from the car, but no gun was ever found.
In 2006, Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly concluded that the shooting was not justified, and Lawlor was subsequently charged with first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault in connection with Bryant's death.
Lawlor took early retirement before the case against him was concluded. He was found not guilty in December 2009.
Lawlor filed suit last March seeking more than $700,000 in legal fees, lost wages, overtime and other benefits.
The city had sought to have Lawlor's claims for damages, aside from legal fees, dismissed on the grounds that he has not exhausted other administrative remedies, such as mediation and arbitration. The city also argued that state statutes do not indemnify, or protect, Lawlor from any losses, unless the losses occurred through payments made to a third party.
Lawlor's attorney, Michael Georgetti, said Superior Court Judge Jane S. Scholl relied on previous legal decisions regarding the statute that requires indemnification of police officers acquitted of criminal charges.
"Those decisions had unanimously refused to recognize the city's argument," Georgetti said in an e-mail Tuesday, adding that the judge also ruled that it was unnecessary for his client to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing suit.
City spokeswoman Sarah Barr, speaking on behalf of Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee-Borges, said in an e-mail Tuesday that "the city preserves the right to appeal at the appropriate stage of the proceedings."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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