Springdale insurance carrier pays Harmar man $225,000 over Taser incident
Springdale Borough's insurance carrier paid $225,000 to settle a federal lawsuit involving alleged civil rights violations by former borough police Officer Mark E. Thom and other officers.
In July, Gary Cahill, 36, of Harmar sued the borough, Thom, former police Chief Joseph Naviglia Jr. and former Officer Jeremy C. Liotta over a December 2011 incident in which Thom shocked Cahill with a Taser while Cahill was handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police cruiser.
Cahill agreed to dismiss the lawsuit on Sept. 25 after the settlement was reached with Arizona-based Scottsdale Insurance Co. on the borough's behalf.
Springdale and the rest of the defendants do not admit wrongdoing in the agreement, which was signed by Cahill on Sept. 10 and released on Monday by Springdale Solicitor Steve Yakopec.
It is the second federal lawsuit the borough's insurer has settled this year.
Allegheny County police Officer Raymond A. Hrabos in March was paid $98,500 to settle his lawsuit, which also alleged civil rights violations by Thom and other borough police officers.
“We're pleased that the matter is resolved,” said Tim O'Brien, Cahill's lawyer. “Hopefully, a message will be sent to ensure police officers are properly trained.
“I think Mr. Cahill's case was an important case to address issues regarding a police officer who required more supervision and who should not have been permitted to be in the position to use a Taser or some other weapon on a citizen,” O'Brien said. “The case involved an individual officer, but equally important is who was minding the store in terms of an officer with the type of complaints that had been filed against him.”
Prior to the Cahill incident, Hrabos had sued Thom, Liotta, Naviglia, the borough and another officer, claiming his civil rights were violated during a February 2010 incident in which Thom allegedly assaulted him when Hrabos, who was not on duty, tapped on the window of an officer's pickup to find out why he was blocking a narrow, snow-covered street.
“That case alone should have sent some pretty clear signals that they needed to be more careful of who they entrusted with (police) powers,” said O'Brien, who also represented Hrabos.
Over a year later, during what Cahill called an unprovoked traffic stop, he said Thom pointed an AR-15 rifle at him, then handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a police car. He said Thom berated him, punched him in the face and shocked him repeatedly with a Taser.
Cahill initially was charged with resisting arrest, attempting to flee an officer, drunken driving, possession of marijuana and other charges.
The case against Cahill was dropped in June, according to court records.
Thom pleaded guilty in March to a federal charge of depriving Cahill of his civil rights. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22.
Thom resigned his position on the police force after his guilty plea.
Springdale Council in June hired him as a summer public works employee; it's not clear whether he still works for the borough.
Mayor Eileen Miller declined to comment. Council President David Finley did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alligator spotted at Cheswick shoreline
- Charges filed against man shot by police in Bell Township
- Virus found at South Butler school
- Rayburn man, 74, dies in Manor Township crash
- Police chase ends with shooting in Bell Township; suspect wounded
- Washington Township man accused of plot against ex-wife’s boyfriend
- Gilpin settles lawsuit with suspended police officers
- Springdale council, mayor spar over police costs
- New Kensington-Arnold teachers accept 3-year contract
- New Kensington native competes for title of U.S. Army Europe’s best NCO
- Cheswick fills 1 of 2 council vacancies