Attorney: NPD officer used excessive force, violated rights of homeless man

NORWICH – Attorney Ronald Benjamin of Binghamton is filing a claim against both the City of Norwich and a Norwich Police Officer following the arrest of a homeless man last Wednesday, August 3.

“There are multiple witnesses that have said that the conduct of this officer was excessive and abusive,” said Benjamin. “The man was sitting on a bench, harming no one.”

According to Norwich Police Chief Rodney Marsh, at 3 p.m. Wednesday, August 3, the station received a phone call from a local establishment. It was reported that an individual, who appeared to be under the influence, was in front of their building and was refusing to leave the area.

The chief added that the proprietors of the establishment requested to pursue charges of trespass, due to the individual refusing their requests to leave.

The man, Mr. Kevin Carr, was subsequently arrested for trespass and resisting arrest.

One witness to the incident – who has asked to remain anonymous – said, “I was standing outside of the library and Kevin was sitting on the bench. He was slightly intoxicated, but not belligerent or rude. He wasn’t harassing anyone or anything, but I assume someone made a complaint and that’s when the officers arrived.”

“Two officers pulled up, one was older and the other was younger, probably six feet tall, maybe 230 pounds and bald. The younger officer told Kevin to stand up,” said the witness. “I was standing maybe 10-12 feet away. The officer told Kevin to stand up or he was going to mace him.”

The witness said Mr. Carr was then pepper sprayed by the officer. “Kevin then reached up to wipe the mace from his eyes, and the officer grabbed him and slammed him face first into the corner of the curb,” he said. “I believe excessive force was used. An ambulance came and then took Kevin away. Kevin is maybe 100 pounds soaking wet, and has always been harmless.”

Benjamin has taken Mr. Carr’s case on consignment.

“I would note that this does appear to be a case of excessive force and very poor judgement on the part of the police officer in approaching Mr. Carr in the first instance,” said Benjamin.

Benjamin said he is preparing a notice of claim to file against the City of Norwich and will be filing a separate action against the officer individually under 42 USC 1983 – which is the civil rights statute for multiple Constitutional violations – arising out of the confrontation. Benjamin added that the most important violation in the situation would be the use of excessive force.

Chief Marsh said, “Mr. Carr refused to adhere the officer’s verbal commands that he was under arrest and to stand up. During the lawful arrest of Mr. Carr, he resisted the officer and was subsequently taken to the ground and handcuffed. During the arrest, Mr. Carr received a laceration to his forehead. He was transported to Chenango Memorial Hospital and treated for the laceration.”

When staff members of The Evening Sun contacted the hospital on Thursday, August 4, at 5 p.m., Mr. Carr had been released.

Benjamin said the officer’s actions gave Mr. Carr a concussion in addition to the laceration to his head.

“I plan to sue the civil side of this case,” Benjamin said. “If these bogus charges are not dismissed immediately, we will be taking them to a bench trial.”

“The City of Norwich and the Police Chief need to look at this officer’s conduct and see if he is fit to continue as an officer,” Benjamin added. “Both the the City and the NPD are ratifying his behavior.”

Based on press log information provided to The Evening Sun, the arresting officer in the case was Brandon Clarke.

The police chief did not make a comment on the status of the officer involved.

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