MOUNT VERNON — Two lawsuits filed against Mount Vernon Police Department officers were settled recently after U.S. District Court judges agreed the cases, in part, could be heard by a jury.
Dustin McCoy reached a financial settlement with MVPD officers Matt Jones Andrew Burns after McCoy alleged his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was arrested, without warrant, inside his home on May 11, 2008. He also alleged he was the victim of excessive force.
The court, however, ruled that once McCoy pleaded no contest in Mount Vernon Muncipal Court to persisting disorderly conduct, he no longer has the right to argue the validity of the arrest.
In regard to McCoy’s allegations of excessive force, the court ruled that evidence appeared to back up his claim and denied Jones’ and Burns’ request to dismiss.
“The ruling ... in Dustin McCoy’s favor set the stage for successful settlement negotiations,” said attorney for both cases Phillip D. Lehmkuhl.
Brandy Zar filed similar charges against officers Justin Trowbridge and Jason Payne in April 2009 after she was arrested following a domestic dispute.
The court’s rulings were in line with that of the McCoy case where the court ruled Zar’s plea of no contest “admitted to the factual basis of her arrest.”
However, the court did rule there is merit to the claims of warrantless entry to her home and exessive use of force.
“Brandy Zar and I were very pleased with the decision ... which cleared the way for the case to go to trial,” Lehmkuhl said.
Because of the settlements, both trials have been canceled.
According to Mount Vernon Safety-Service Director David Glass, the settlement negotiations were handled by the city’s insurance company.