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Torrington settles lawsuit filed by deaf residents

August 8, 2007

 TORRINGTON, Conn. —City officials have agreed to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit brought against city police by three deaf Torrington residents.

The lawsuit had claimed police used excessive force during an arrest at a home involving a dispute over child custody in 2002.

City Council members unanimously agreed this week to settle the lawsuit for $50,000 which is to be distributed to Wendell Hunte, Barbara Hunte and Roosevelt Hunte.

According to court documents, the case stemmed from a custodial interference matter. On the evening of July 10, 2002, police received a complaint about a dispute involving a 7-year-old girl, the daughter of Kenuel Hunte, who had gone to his siblings’ home.

Police met up with Kenuel at his siblings’ residence and a dispute broke out between police and the Huntes. The Huntes claimed police did not heed their sign language and used pepper spray to subdue them.

Police claimed the Huntes attacked officers with construction materials including two-by-fours with protruding nails.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2005 and was set to begin trial this week, according to court documents.

Although the case is being settled, police officials are not conceding there was any wrongdoing, Chief Robert Milano said Monday.

“I support the officers 100 percent,” Milano said. “They acted with a great deal of professionalism and restraint.”

There was an initial report Kenuel Hunte brandished a machete and police were concerned about protecting the child from what could be a deadly situation for the child and anyone who came in contact with Kenuel Hunte, police said.

The formal settlement documents were expected to be drafted this week, City Attorney Ernestine Weaver said.


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