Watertown Woman Sues Police Department For $1 Million

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A 21 year old Watertown woman is suing the Lake Placid Police Department for $1 million after accusing officers of assault, battery, false arrest and unlawful imprisonment.

Taryn Stanfa filed the suit Thursday in State Supreme Court in Jefferson County.

The lawsuit names the village of Lake Placid as well as police officers James Staats and Matthew Braunius and others.

According to Stanfa's lawyer, Matthew Norfolk, the suit stems from a January 21 incident that occurred outside the geographical boundaries of the village of Lake Placid.

Norfolk says Stanfa and a friend were driving from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake early that morning when the friend needed to use a restroom. 

He says the friend used the restroom at Hannaford supermarket.

When the pair prepared to leave, he says Stanfa discovered she lost her keys.

Norfolk says Stanfa was looking for the keys when police arrived.

According to Norfolk, Stanfa objected when police attempted to search her car without her permission.

He says that's when the officers got physical with his client.

Norfolk says Stanfa was not under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

The suit alleges that Stanfa, who was attending North Country Community College at the time, was thrown to the ground and injured by village patrolman Staats without justification.

The incident allegedly happened in the parking lot of Hannaford supermarket between 5 and 6 a.m.

Stanfa alleges that Officer Staats "without justification, assaulted and battered (her) with excessive and unreasonable force" and violently pushed, shoved and threw Stanfa against an automobile.

She claims the officer grabbed her, threw her to the ground and pushed her against the parking lot surface.

The suit alleges the officer then placed handcuffs on Stanfa's wrists and tightened them to the point that she suffered injuries. 

Stanfa claims she was then detained by Staats and another officer, Matthew Braunius, in a police cruiser for a significant period of time before being released without being charged with any offense.

According to her attorney, Stanfa sought emergency medical care for bruises on her torso, arms, legs and wrists as a consequence of the police officers conduct.

Stanfa's lawyer says the village of Lake Placid denied any wrongdoing and refused to honor Stanfa's claim asserting that the police officers are entitled to immunity.

On Stanfa's behalf, her lawyer says he filed a formal complaint with the Lake Placid Police Department complaining of the conduct of Officers Staats and Braunius and requesting a thorough investigation into their conduct.

However, Norfolk says the police department appears to have discontinued its internal investigation.

He says Staats and Braunius are still on duty and Chief Bill Moore has not taken any disciplinary action against either one of them.

7 News was unable to immediately reach Moore or Village Attorney Janet Bliss for comment.

Norfolk said the village's case was being handled by attorney Jonathan Bernstein.

When 7 News contacted him, he refused to discuss the case or even confirm that he's handling it for the village.

Friday, December 9, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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