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City of Rochester settles lawsuit alleging police beating, false arrest

Rural/Metro paying $25,000

By: Bennett Loudon//December 28, 2021

City of Rochester settles lawsuit alleging police beating, false arrest

Rural/Metro paying $25,000

By: Bennett Loudon//December 28, 2021//

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The city of Rochester will pay $90,000 to settle a lawsuit accusing a group of police officers of falsely arresting and beating a man in 2016.

The total settlement is $115,000 and includes $25,000 to be paid by Rural/Metro ambulance.

Michael Casaccia and his wife, Marybeth Casaccia, sued the city of Rochester, the Rochester Police Department, several police officers and Rural/Metro.

On May 23, 2016, Casaccia and his wife went to a downtown bar after learning their daughter was extremely intoxicated there.

Michael Casaccia called 911 and asked two emergency medical technicians to examine her to determine if she should be taken to a hospital. She was taken on a gurney to an ambulance and the doors were closed.

A police officer testified that, when he arrived, an ambulance crew member told him Casaccia “needs to be arrested.”

In response, the officer asked Casaccia to put his hands behind his back.

When Casaccia did not immediately comply, the officer and the EMTs grabbed him, “slammed him up against the ambulance,” hit him twice in the head “then slammed him onto the pavement behind the ambulance,” according to the suit.

By that time, four or five more officers had arrived and they helped slam Casaccia onto the pavement, the suit claims.

They held Casaccia down on the pavement so that he could not move, “forced his hands behinds his back, overextended his arms, and choked Mr. Casaccia until he lost consciousness, causing injuries to his left shoulder and his right elbow and forearm, as well as other injuries,” according to the complaint.

Casaccia was handcuffed and arrested. He was held at the police station for nearly four hours before posting $1,000 bail. He was charged with two misdemeanors: second-degree obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest.

In May 2016, Rochester City Court Judge Ellen M. Yacknin dismissed the resisting arrest charge. The obstructing governmental administration charge was later dismissed when it was “formally abandoned by the prosecuting attorney,” according to the suit.

The settlement helped the city avoid paying attorney fees for the plaintiffs that had been previously ordered by U.S. Magistrate Mark W. Pedersen.

After an extended battle over discovery issues, attorneys for Casaccia filed a motion for attorneys’ fees to pay for their work on a motion to compel. U.S. Magistrate Mark W. Pedersen granted attorney fees of $67,137, plus costs of $490.28.

“The court believes the proper sanction is to direct payment of the costs of bringing the motion to compel and engaging in two appearances in relation to it,” Pedersen in his decision.

But by agreeing to the settlement, the city avoided paying those attorney fees.

Plaintiff Michael Casaccia was not completely satisfied with the settlement.

“It wasn’t about the money anyways,” he said. “It was about the accountability that still I don’t think ever happened on any of the six officers,” he said.

None of the officers involved in the incident have been disciplined by the city.

Municipal attorney Spencer Ash did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The Casaccias were represented by attorneys Donald M. Thompson, Elliot Dolby Shields, Mark A. Foti and Danielle Wild.

[email protected] / (585) 232-2035

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