Troy Taser lawsuit settled out of court

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The City of Troy reached a $100,000

settlement Thursday with a man who filed suit in 2009 accusing an

officer of excessive use of force in a November 2007 Taser

incident.

Troy resident A.J. Haflich filed the

complaint against officer Bob McLeod, who has since been promoted

to chief, for Tasering him while his hands were cuffed behind his

back and he was seatbelted in the backseat of a patrol cruiser.

Haflich said McLeod Tasered him as

punishment for raising his voice and using profanity after his

arrest. McLeod argued that he deployed his Taser because, after

opening the cruiser’s rear door, Haflich moved into a position to

kick him.

Haflich said he hopes the settlement

will open the eyes of local citizens who showed disapproval of his

lawsuit.

“He obviously did something wrong for

them to want to settle,” he said Monday.

McLeod said he would have rather seen

the case go to court. The decision, however, was up to the counsel

of the city’s insurance carrier, the Montana Municipal Interlocal

Authority.

McLeod’s attorney did not immediately

return a voicemail on Monday.

“I’m disappointed that they settled out

of court because I don’t feel justice was served,” McLeod said. “We

do things for the justice system all the time in hopes that justice

will prevail.”

McLeod was put on administrative leave

for two weeks in November and December 2009 after Haflich filed the

lawsuit, but was reinstated after a three-member ad hoc committee

cleared McLeod of wrongdoing.

The committee interviewed McLeod and

watched footage from the cruiser’s dashboard video camera, which

showed images of the arrest and contained audio of the backseat

Tasing. The group did not interview Haflich.

Haflich’s case got a boost in August

last year when U.S. District Judge Jeremiah Lynch denied McLeod’s

motion for summary judgment in a 25-page finding that disputed

nearly every angle of his defense.

“The only matter asserted by McLeod

presenting a viable issue regarding his safety is the issue of

whether McLeod was at risk of being kicked by Haflich,” the finding

read. “But Haflich denies kicking McLeod, and the audio recording

does not reflect that Haflich tried to kick McLeod.”

After McLeod’s defense objected to

Lynch’s conclusions, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy reviewed the

case and concurred with Lynch.

In the early hours of Nov. 23, 2007,

McLeod arrested Haflich on charges of felony DUI and misdemeanor

theft after Haflich stole beer from a gas station. Haflich became

agitated and belligerent, according to both sides in the case, when

he learned that he would incur the cost of his vehicle being towed

and impounded. McLeod instructed him to quiet down to allow him to

speak on his radio to dispatch.

When he continued to yell, McLeod got

out of the vehicle and opened Haflich’s door.

The audio indicates that while McLeod

stood at the open rear door, he asked Haflich, “Are you gonna be

quiet while I talk on the radio?” Haflich responded, “Nope,” and

then McLeod deployed the Taser.

McLeod asserts that Haflich had swung

his legs toward the door, leading him to believe that Haflich was

going to kick him.

Haflich reported the incident to

McLeod’s immediate supervisor at the time, Chief Mitch Walters,

nearly two years after it happened. Walters then reportedly took

the information to the mayor. Shortly afterward, on Nov. 17, 2009,

Haflich filed a lawsuit in federal court.

The case, Haflich’s attorney, Paul

Applebaum said, was about both McLeod’s actions and the city’s

inactions.

“What happened was clearly wrong and

the city never admitted what happened was wrong,” Applebaum said.

“… One-hundred thousand bucks sends a message that what happened is

really not appropriate.”

McLeod said that his police department

is taking measures to fight against bogus lawsuits.

“Within the last week, everyone from

the Troy Police Department has been fitted with a body video

camera,” McLeod said last Friday, “to prevent frivolous lawsuits

from happening, to protect us.”

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