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October 26, 2013

Lawsuit targets GPD Fiesta action

Woman cites injuries amid K9 melee

A Townsend woman has filed a lawsuit charging that a Gloucester police officer “maliciously mishandled” her arm, pulling it behind her back and causing a tear in her rotator cuff as police dogs barked outside the St. Peter’s Club and Fiesta Pub on a rowdy, humid St. Peter’s Fiesta night.

And the lawsuit has come just as the city released its long-delayed after-action report on Fiesta, with reports from Essex County sheriff’s deputies and a third-party review by a former police chief through the consulting firm ADP Management Inc. — all of which found that there was no wrongdoing either on the part of Gloucester Police or the Essex County Sheriff’s Department deputies who assisted local police during Fiesta.

Police Chief Leonard Campanello declined to comment on the specifics of plaintiff Jill Fontaine’s civil action claim Friday, saying only that his department has received her claim and denies its charges in their entirety.

“The Gloucester Police Department vigorously and emphatically denies all of Ms. Fontaine’s claims, and we look forward to the process that we must abide by, which is the court proceeding,” Campanello said Friday. He refused to comment on the employment status of any officers involved.

Fontaine’s attorneys, Robert S. Sinsheimer, Lauren Thomas and Stephen Hrones, filed her claim against the city — and specifically naming Gloucester Police Inspector Steven Mizzoni — in U.S. District Court. The claim lists damage to Fontaine’s rotator cuff and resulting pain, six weeks of physical therapy and an inability to perform her job as a day-care employee, claiming damages based on her medical bills and reduced work hours and earnings. The suit does not list a specific monetary claim.

Fontaine, who grew up in Gloucester, alleges that she exited a restroom at Fiesta Pub on June 30 and heard dogs barking outside the pub as police attempted to clear people away from the area. She left the pub moments after a man was cuffed in what later became a contentiously debated arrest, when a 27-second video of the arrest surfaced on the website Youtube and elsewhere.

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