Jason Lawton, right, with his attorney, Rebecca Otey
A woman who was punched by a former St. Albans police officer while handcuffed is suing the city for civil rights violations.
Amy Connelly, of Highgate, was in a holding cell at the police station on March 14, 2019, when then-sergeant Jason Lawton pushed her into a wall, then delivered an uppercut to her right eye. Two other officers, Zachary Koch and Michael Ferguson, helped Lawton restrain her on the floor.
Connelly's civil lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court of Vermont, names all three officers, Chief Gary Taylor and the city. She contends that the police department subjected her to illegal detention and excessive force, violating her constitutional and statutory rights.
The complaint also charges that the city failed to properly screen officers during its hiring process and that Taylor did not "adequately control, train, supervise and discipline police officers under his command."
Cloud sounded a different note Monday. "The City has worked hard to address the concerns reflected in the Connelly complaint," he said in a written statement. "Resolving the litigation is the next step in putting the matter behind us and we’re eager to do so."
Pigeon, as Seven Days reported, was initially turned down for a job at the department because of alleged conduct during a recent divorce, but was hired a year later. The County Courier reported that Pigeon had begun dating Taylor's niece during the interim, but Taylor insisted in an email to Seven Days that Pigeon's "social fraternization with my niece (whom I seldom even see) played no role whatsoever in his employment."
Within weeks of his hire, he was verbally reprimanded for using a racial slur during a conversation with Ferguson.
Similarly, Lawton had been hired by St. Albans despite a high-profile traffic ticket controversy with the Shelburne Police Department in which Lawton was found to have falsely testified. The driver sued in that case, too. It was settled for an undisclosed amount.
This post may be updated. Read the complaint below: