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Town of Ulter police records reveal ongoing litigation

Nov 14, 2022 12:30 am

Diane Pineiro-Zucker is reporting for the Daily Freeman the town of Ulster and Police Officer Ralph Leiter have been sued in a case alleging “assault and battery” of a passenger during a 2021 traffic stop on state Route 28. The legal action came to light in response to the paper's request for a record of complaints, lawsuits and investigations, and their outcomes, involving town of Ulster police. That information was provided by the department this week and included the allegations against Leiter and others, in records dating from 2019 through October 2022. The pending civil lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District on June 2, 2021, by Colm Martin of Kingston against Leiter and the town of Ulster. The case alleges a “completely unprovoked” assault and battery and “use of excessive force” against Martin by Leiter. Martin is seeking $37.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages from Leiter, along with $5 million from the town. The complaint was filed by Russell Schindler on Martin’s behalf, stating he was a passenger in a vehicle during a traffic stop when one of the officers involved noted that he smelled marijuana. Martin told the officer that he had smoked prior to getting into the car and possessed half of a marijuana cigarette. Martin was asked to toss the unlit joint out the passenger door window. He said he complied with the request, but Leiter then allegedly “opened the passenger-side door, reached inside the vehicle, grabbed [Martin] by his right arm and violently pulled plaintiff out of the vehicle and threw him to the ground.” Martin says he sustained “serious personal injuries, including but not limited to his head, neck, and both shoulders" as well as "..significant emotional distress, anxiety and sleep disturbance.” Berardi and Ulster Town Supervisor Jim Quigley said last week that because the matter remains in litigation they were unable to discuss it. The Freeman is continuing to seek disciplinary records from state police and is not alone in its effort to obtain police records. On July 1, the New York Civil Liberties Union, with pro bono counsel from Latham & Watkins, filed suit against the New York State Police for its alleged refusal to comply with a similar request for disciplinary requests submitted by that organization. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.

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