Connecticut Town Settles Lawsuit over Suspect’s Death

December 8, 2008

The city of West Haven, Connecticut has agreed to pay nearly $400,000 to the family of a man who was killed on Interstate 95 while running from police.

The family of 18-year-old Gary “Chris” Tyson had accused West Haven police in a civil lawsuit of using excessive force. A settlement in the case was finalized last week, the New Haven Register reported.

Officers used a police dog to track and bite Tyson after he was allegedly involved in a fist fight on Sept. 23, 2002. He hid in bushes along I-95, and was struck and killed by a truck while trying to run across the highway.

Tyson’s autopsy revealed he had 24 puncture wounds on his thigh and buttocks from multiple dog bites.

West Haven Deputy Corporation Counsel Lee Tiernan said if the lawsuit went to trial, details about the dog bites may have been hard for the city to defend.

“I don’t know what a jury would do with a kid in the brush getting bit by a dog,” he said.

The city’s insurance company has agreed to pay the $392,500 settlement. After attorney fees and other costs, Tyson’s family is expected to get at least $250,000.

The city must pay a $100,000 deductible before its insurance policy kicks in. It would have had to cover the full cost of a jury award if the city had refused to reach a settlement and lost at trial.

The Tyson family’s attorney, Leon M. Rosenblatt, declined to comment on specifics of the settlement. He said the family is relieved to put the ordeal behind them.

“It would be perverse to say they are pleased with the outcome because they lost their son. They still believe their son was a victim of police brutality,” he said.

An investigation by the Connecticut State Police cleared West Haven’s police department of wrongdoing in the incident, and no charges were filed against any of the officers involved.

“Regardless of what the outcome would have been if this case went to trial, we all realize and understand that the Tysons lost a loved one that day,” West Haven Police Chief Ronald M. Quagliani said.

“Since the police department had already been cleared of wrongdoing, it would serve no useful purpose to relive what happened that day,” he said.
Information from: New Haven Register

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.