Former Hartford Police Officer Lawlor Files Civil Suit
By STEVEN GOODE
March 03, 2010
Former city police Det. Robert Lawlor has filed suit against the city, seeking more than $700,000 in legal fees, lost wages, overtime and other benefits.
Lawlor shot two Hartford men on May 7, 2005, while working on a police investigation involving drugs and guns.
Jashon Bryant, 18, was shot in the head and killed. Brandon Henry, 21, was shot in the chest and drove away before crashing into a parked car several blocks away and fleeing on foot. Police recovered drugs from the car, but no weapons were found.
In May 2006, Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly concluded that the shooting was unjustified. A month later, Lawlor was charged with first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault in connection with Bryant's death.
Lawlor, who took early retirement before the case against him was concluded, was found not guilty last December.
In his lawsuit, Lawlor also is seeking damages resulting from any service gaps related to his pension, wages from the date of his arrest to the date of his retirement, private job benefits, insurance, sick time and vacation time. The suit seeks more than $575,000 in legal fees for attorney Michael Georgetti and more than $128,000 for attorney Hubert Santos.
Georgetti, who is representing Lawlor in the civil suit, said in an e-mail Tuesday that Hartford has frequently refused to comply with the law that indemnifies officers found not guilty of crime. He said state law is clear that if a police officer is found not guilty, the municipal employer shall indemnify the officer.
"When the city of Hartford refuses to indemnify any officer and forces him [or] her to sue in court, not only is it violating the statute, but it is also insulting all police officers in its employ," Georgetti said.
Last week, a judge awarded another former city police officer nearly $600,000 in his civil suit against the city. In 2003, Robert Murtha shot a suspect fleeing in a car and told investigators he did so because he was struck by the suspect's car.
But a videotape showed that the car never struck him. Murtha was suspended without pay and charged with first-degree assault, fabricating evidence and filing a false report. He was fired in 2004 and found not guilty of all charges in 2006. Murtha has another case against the city pending with the state board of mediation, which could result in more monetary awards and Murtha's reinstatment as a Hartford police officer.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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