Some Small Justice in CT - PPD watch out!
A case in Connecicut that is similar to the Kendra James case , perhaps a warning to the city of Portland. Friends of mine from back home - A little justice for Malik.
Date: Fri, Jul 11, 2003, 9:25 AM
Jury rules that Flodquist used 'excessive force'
East Haven ordered to pay $2.5 million
Michelle Tuccitto , Register Staff 07/11/2003
[photo] Emma Jones flashes the victory sign as she leaves U.S. District
Court in Hartford after a jury found East Haven police Sgt. Robert
used excessive force in the death of her son, Malik Jones. Chris
HARTFORD - Emma Jones covered her face with her hands and sobbed
a federal jury awarded her $2.5 million in punitive damages from the
East Haven for the 1997 fatal police shooting of her 21-year-old son,
The jury ruled that East Haven police Sgt. Robert Flodquist used
force when he shot Malik Jones to death on April 14, 1997, after Jones
allegedly tried to run Flodquist over with his vehicle.
Flodquist is white and Jones was black.
Jurors hearing the civil suit in U.S. District Court found East Haven
for violating Jones' civil rights by failing to take action to stop
from a pattern of racial profiling - such as stopping blacks at the
with New Haven without cause or using excessive force against them.
The lawsuit claimed a police pursuit of Jones' vehicle was improper and
Neither of the two police officers named individually in the lawsuit -
Flodquist and Officer Gary DePalma - was held liable for damages.
"Today, I feel a relief that is so deep, words can't describe it," Emma
Jones said. "It has been almost seven years getting to this place. This
historic and moving event. This case will have implications for towns
cities across the country. This decision will impact the lives of so
people and sends a clear message - if you sanction police murder and
of our children, the town will have to pay."
Attorney Hugh Keefe, who represented Flodquist, DePalma and East Haven,
asked Judge Alvin Thompson to overturn the jury's decision on the race
"If not, I'm confident the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
reverse this case," Keefe said.
Attorney Joseph Moniz, who represented Emma Jones, said the jury's
is significant because it shows the town failed to take action to stop
pattern of racial profiling, border patrols and excessive force.
"Jurors have sent a $2.5 million message - that you cannot violate
constitutional rights," Moniz said. "For me, it is much more
that the ruling was against the town, rather than against the
police officers. The town failed to take action on previous violations
rights, causing what happened in April of 1997."
East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo said, "We're all very disappointed in
It's demoralizing, really. I believe we don't profile. I wouldn't
anything like that."
Moniz called the case a tale of two bordering communities with a vast
disparity in economics and race.
"Inner cities which are mostly black, surrounded by mostly white towns,
this scenario in place - it is not just a problem in East Haven and New
Haven," Moniz said. "This jury is sending a clear message that
in this state is what caused this to happen here, and it needs to be
Moniz called the testimony of Shane Gray, an African American man who
Flodquist shot at but missed during a 1991 chase, key to the outcome.
Flodquist told jurors that he fired at Gray after he pulled a gun on
during the chase. While attorneys for both sides initially said Gray
since died, he is alive and in prison for sale of a controlled
Gray testified and denied ever having any weapon. None was found at the
scene, though Flodquist said he believes someone in a hostile crowd
gathered hid it.
The verdict of the seven-member jury Thursday was unanimous. Six of the
jurors are white, while one is black.
Despite warnings from Thompson against any outbursts, Jones' supporters
started crying and hugging as the verdict was announced. Flodquist
display any emotion, and stared straight ahead.
The jury found that Flodquist violated Jones' constitutional rights by
excessive force against him.
However, it determined Flodquist is shielded from any liability because
police officer in his situation could have believed his conduct to be
Flodquist said after the verdict that he believes it exonerates him.
"I believe in the jury system and accept their verdict," Flodquist
feel I was exonerated - the jury found there was immunity from
feel that there is closure now and the healing process can begin for
Jones family and for my family."
Flodquist, who has said he believed his life was in danger when he shot
Jones, said this case has led police to second-guess themselves when in
Also Thursday, jurors ruled in favor of DePalma, rejecting the claim
DePalma violated Malik Jones' constitutional rights by failing to
and prevent excessive force from being used against him.
"I was exonerated, and I'm pleased with the verdict," DePalma said. As
the claim that police had a pattern of discrimination against African
Americans, "I don't think it is true," he said.
The jury rejected Emma Jones' claims of battery and intentional
of emotional distress on her son.
An investigation by the state's attorney's office determined that
was justified in shooting Malik Jones, because he reasonably feared for
life as Jones backed his car toward him following a car chase. That
investigation concluded that Jones put Flodquist at risk by
turning the steering wheel so the front end of the car swung toward
Flodquist, who was on foot and attempted to avoid the car.
A federal investigation found that there was insufficient evidence to
establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Flodquist committed any civil
Flodquist, who held the rank of officer at the time, has said he
pulled Malik Jones' vehicle over after receiving a report of a motorist
speeding and driving erratically. He denied the allegation that he
Jones over because he is black.
Malik Jones, who had a criminal record that included arrests for
with an officer and possession and sale of narcotics, had been under
influence of alcohol, marijuana and phencyclidine, or PCP, at the time
his death, according to testimony.
Keefe said he is pleased with part of the outcome.
"If the jury had to decide against us in any way, this is the easiest
reverse," Keefe said. "The (racial profiling) claim had the thinnest
evidence and relied upon the testimony of the most unbelievable
Throughout the trial, Keefe attempted to attack the credibility of
of the plaintiff's witnesses, by referring to their arrest records and
history of run-ins with police.
Ruth Cosker of Wethersfield, the jury foreperson, declined to comment.
officials said Thompson polled jurors about whether they'd be willing
discuss the case with the media and none wished to do so.
Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Greater New Haven NAACP, called the
"This is for all the black men who have been railroaded since we came
this country," Esdaile said. "For a mostly white jury to come up with
verdict, it shows this won't be tolerated anymore."
He also said he and Emma Jones are scheduled to hold a press conference
11 a.m. today to announce plans for a Saturday march into East Haven.
"We've been marching and striving to get justice and now that we got
want to march to let people know that a jury of six white and one black
that East Haven racial profiling has got to stop."
A timeline in the Malik Jones shooting case.
April 14: Police Officer Robert Flodquist shoots Malik Jones on Grand
in New Haven after a chase that began on Frontage Road in East Haven.
police begin investigation.
April 15: State police say Flodquist feared for his life. East Haven
Chief James C. Criscuolo says Flodquist thought Jones was going to run
down with his car.
April 16: About 200 people gather at shooting site and rally for
May 17: Flodquist returns to duty after a month and three days on
administrative leave. May 29: Henry C. Lee, state's top forensic
joins state police investigation and town of East Haven hires New Haven
lawyer Hugh Keefe to lead the defense against civil suits arising from
June 14: Malik Jones' mother, Emma Jones, breaks her two-month silence
speaks at a rally for justice.
July 10: East Haven Mayor Hank Luzzi meets with Emma Jones to discuss
upcoming march she and supporters are planning from the shooting site
July 14: About 500 people march from shooting site to East Haven Town
Aug. 7: Lee conducts re-enactment of the shooting.
Sept. 19: Emma Jones asks state's administrative judge for a grand jury
probe into the shooting.
Sept. 22: New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington decides
justified. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and New Haven Police
Melvin H. Wearing dispute Dearington's findings and hold a press
calling for an investigation by the federal government.
April: Emma Jones files a lawsuit seeking unspecified punitive and
compensatory damages from Flodquist, his partner at the time, the town
East Haven, its former police chief and the city of New Haven.
Oct. 30: Justice Department investigation finds reason to believe
violated police guidelines but there is not enough proof to press
May 19: Civil trial begins.
May 20: Eyewitness claims Flodquist was "flaming mad."
June 2: Flodquist testifies, claims "my life was at risk."
June 4: Flodquist testifies there were other options to shooting.
July 1: "Dead man" Shane Gray testifies against Flodquist.
July 2: Jurors begin deliberation. July 10: Jurors find for the
Emma Jones, award her $2.5 million.
* * *
Michelle Tuccitto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or
İNew Haven Register 2003
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