Peterson v. Lester

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Civil Rights

, New York Law Journal

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Judge Lawrence Kahn

On May 4, 2008, Peterson struggled with police officers responding to an alarm triggered when he broke into a church. Peterson claimed the officers kicked and punched him, beat him with flashlights, tasered him and pepper sprayed him. On May 21 Peterson was hurt during a prison altercation. His jaw was fractured after striking a sink and his knee was lacerated after striking a toilet. After being placed in solitary housing, a "largely unremarkable" mental health assessment found Peterson not in need of "active mental health services." State court convicted Peterson of assault, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and criminal trespass. Conviction provided probable cause to arrest. Thus Peterson cannot recover damages for false arrest. The court granted Peterson $1 in nominal damages on his excessive force claim. Despite counsel's representation, none of Peterson's record evidence was authenticated. Further, his injuries after fighting with police following his unlawful entry into the church were caused by the justifiable use of force. There was insufficient evidence to show that any headaches or other injuries that Peterson may have experienced were the result of his May 4 altercation with police rather than his May 21 prison fight.

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