Police Department Settles Lawsuit for 2.5 Million after Man Dies in Police Custody
A Long Island police department has agreed to pay a $2.5 million settlement to the family of a sickly bipolar man who died in custody after police denied him access to his medication. Widow Danielle McDonnell and the couple’s young son filed a $50 million lawsuit against Suffolk County police department, alleging that the police used excessive force while arresting and detaining her husband, Daniel McDonnell.
The incident in question occurred on May 5, 2011, when 40-year-old Daniel McDonnell, was arrested after a neighbor claimed that he violated a protection order by driving too closely to him as he entered his driveway. The husband and father to young, Devon McDonnell, spent 18 hours at the First Precinct in West Babylon, where his mental condition began deteriorating. Danielle McDonnell says that her father-in-law warned officers about her husband’s bipolar disorder and his heart condition. Despite the information that was told to police, Daniel was still denied medication after his mother went to the precinct to give an officer her son’s medication. Purportedly, that same officer reassured Daniel’s mother that he would be taken to the emergency room if any problems were to occur.
Problems did arise. After McDonnell was denied his medication, he became disorderly. He began crying out for his medication and sweating profusely as he paced back and forth. After McDonnell removed his clothing and placed them in the lavatory which caused flooding, police responded by trying to restrain him. According to the McDonnells’ attorney, Stephen Civardi, “McDonnell had been shot with a stun gun up to six times, kicked by officers wearing boots, held down by a riot shield pressed against his body, and pinned to the floor by the hands, feet, and weight of up to 13 officers.” Although McDonnell died in a violent struggle with officers, two officers falsely informed the McDonnell family that Daniel died of a heart attack. A report by the state Commission on Correction stated that “McDonnell’s naked and bruised body was lying face down and handcuffed in a pool of water on the floor, a spit sock hood on his head and face, after a fierce struggle in the 6-by-8 foot cell.” The state Commission of Correction concluded that McDonnell’s death was a preventable homicide.
Just two days before the case went to trial, the parties reached a $2.5 million settlement which U.S. District Judge William Kuntz approved last Wednesday.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of police brutality, you may be entitled to relief. Please contact Khorrami Boucher, LLP for a confidential consultation.