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Apr 8, 2009 3:34 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Taser case against Southampton Village to begin in September

Apr 8, 2009 3:34 PM

The start date of the civil trial brought against Southampton Village and its police department by the family of David Glowczenski, a man who died in February 2004 after police officers subdued him with a stun gun, has been pushed back from this month to September.

Attorneys involved in the trial said the delay was to settle scheduling conflicts among all the law firms involved and the federal judge handling the case, William D. Wall of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Once the case starts, Southampton Village and its co-defendants, including Suffolk County and the Suffolk County Police, face a claim of $75 million in damages in connection with the incident, described by the plaintiffs as involving wrongful death, battery, negligence, excessive use of force, and false arrest. Taser International, which manufactured the stun gun, faces a $55 million claim.

The day 35-year-old David Glowczenski died in police custody, his family had called 911 when he walked out of their Southampton Village house screaming incoherently. When police officers confronted him on North Main Street, he knocked one of them to the ground. In the struggle with officers that followed, Mr. Glowczenski was beaten, sprayed with mace and shocked nine times with a 50,000-volt Taser, according to the account of the incident outlined in the lawsuit.

In November 2004, the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office said the cause of death was natural and ruled it “acute exhaustive mania due to schizophrenia.”

“There’s no wrongdoing on the part of the police or on the part of the instrument, the Taser,” said Tom Spellman of the Smithtown law firm Devitt Spellman Barrett, which is defending the village in court. “This is just one of those sad things,” he said on Monday.

But the attorney for the Glowczenski family, Frederick Brewington, contracted with pathologist Dr. Lone Thanning, the Rockland County medical examiner, to perform a second autopsy. Dr. Thanning said she found evidence of excessive force, including electrical burns.

Mr. Glowczenski’s sister, Jean Griffin, has characterized her brother’s death as murder, but no criminal charges were ever brought against the officers involved, Brian Platt, Marla Donovan, Chris Wetter and Arthur Schucht.

The lawsuits alleges the officers, who are each defendants in the lawsuit, “contrived facts and a false story in an attempt to justify their wrongful shocking, chemical spraying, beating and improper restraint” of Mr. Glowczenski.

Mr. Platt stated in an unrelated lawsuit, which he filed against the village last year, that one of his superior officers ordered him to repeatedly shock Mr. Glowczenski with a Taser. Mr. Platt, who is no longer a member of the Village Police since he was released on disability retirement last year, also said his back was injured in the struggle and he developed post-traumatic stress disorder over Mr. Glowczenski’s death.

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Next time please just shoot em. Someone needs to sue the lawyer for costs after they lose, that would discourage frivilous lawsuits real fast.
By wisewon (1), Nashville on Apr 8, 09 4:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Who says its a frivolous lawsuit ? The family has a real good case , in my opinion.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Apr 9, 09 2:29 PM
I remember him just walking down the street yelling and screaming at people at bus stops. He got violent with a few people, pushing and shoving a few times, so I believe that the police were within their rights to use whatever force necessary. Maybe the family should have sent him where he could have received proper treatment. It's sad for everyone involved.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Apr 9, 09 4:17 PM
Don't Tase Me Bro!
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Apr 9, 09 7:45 PM