N.H. Towns Pay Millions To Settle Claims Against Police

Around midnight on a Saturday, Thomas Hurd fell asleep at the bar of a Chinese restaurant in Farmington, New Hampshire.

The bartender, suspecting Hurd was drunk when he got there, asked him to leave. According to police reports, Hurd instead began smashing plates and flipping tables.

When a Farmington police officer found Hurd, he was teetering in the parking lot of a nearby Cumberland Farms convenience store, a bottle of Absolut vodka in his hoodie pocket.

Officer Sean Owen, along with a police officer from a neighboring town, asked Hurd to place his hands on the rear of the police cruiser. Hurd resisted, yelling obscenities, according to the police report.

Dashcam video of the incident shows Officer Owen then slamming Hurd against the trunk of the cruiser. He steps back, and fires his Taser into Hurd’s back. Hurd crumples.

After recovering from the shock, Hurd stands up briefly, before Owen shocks him a second time with the Taser.

Hurd collapses. He hits his head on the pavement and lays bleeding, unconscious. The officers take him into custody and charge him with five misdemeanors, including resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

When the county prosecutor reviewed the video in preparation for Hurd’s trial, he was alarmed by Officer Owen’s use of force: how quicky the encounter turned physical, with Hurd tased twice in a matter of seconds. The Farmington police chief also expressed concern about what he saw in the video, prompting a review by the New Hampshire Attorney General. In a 49-page report, the A.G. concluded that there was no clear justification for the second firing of the Taser, but not enough evidence to charge Owen with a crime.

Seven months later, the Town of Farmington, through its insurer, quietly paid Hurd $24,500 in exchange for his promise not to file a lawsuit. The settlement agreement, along with the Attorney General’s investigation into the incident, were never released publicly.

Farmington’s payout is one of 87 legal settlements agreed to by municipalities in New Hampshire following allegations of civil rights violations by police officers between 2010 and this year. The settlements cover a range of allegations, from the shooting deaths of citizens by police, to the use of excessive force during a chaotic arrest in Nashua, to police officers in small towns improperly detaining citizens.

In total, these settlements ultimately cost taxpayers a total of more than $4.35 million.

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By: ThisIsButter (44151.30)

Tags: Batender, Suspecting, Drunk man, Cops report, Smashing plates