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May 19, 2013

7 claims in lawsuit against LP Police upheld

Damages sought for alleged assault, distress

ELIZABETHTOWN — Claims in a civil lawsuit against two Lake Placid police officers were upheld in court Friday, and the case will go to court.

Supreme Court Justice Thomas Buchanan heard oral arguments after the defendants, including the Village of Lake Placid, moved to have seven causes, and the entire complaint, dismissed.

The 13 claims stem from an incident in a grocery store parking lot in January 2012, when Taryn Stanfa, now 21, was detained, handcuffed, and her car searched by two Lake Placid policemen, James Staats and Matthew Braunius.

An internal Police Department investigation that winter found no cause for discipline, and both officers remain on the force.

No criminal charges were filed. 

‘PUSHED TO GROUND’

But Stanfa claimed Staats pushed her to the ground with force and held her there with his knee while handcuffing her.

A college student at the time, she claims she was held in a police vehicle under false arrest.

She was not read Miranda Rights, she said, or charged with any crime and later released without charges.

She is represented by Lake Placid attorney Matthew Norfolk of the firm Briggs Norfolk.

4 CHARGES DISMISSED

Attorney for the village and the Police Department, Jonathan Bernstein, of the law firm Goldberg Segalla LLP, argued several claims were duplicative.

In court on Friday, Buchanan agreed on two of those, including one for unlawful imprisonment.

He determined that one is contained in the false arrest charge.

The judge dismissed four others, but left seven charges against the police intact.

The top two claims in the complaint seek damages for assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The civil action also claims police conducted an unreasonable search.

CLAIMS PHYSICAL FORCE

Witness to the incident, Karea Baker, of Skaneateles, is expected to testify.

Then a college student, she was traveling with Stanfa that morning as the two left a friend’s house and headed to Saranac Lake.

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