Settlement reached in suit against 2 officers

Town of Bennington dropped from civil lawsuit in 2018

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BURLINGTON — A Pownal man who claimed he was injured and his civil rights violated by two Bennington Police officers during a January 2015 arrest has agreed to a $10,000 out-of-court settlement.

Andrew Clyde filed a civil lawsuit over the actions of then Bennington Police Officers James Gulley and Nicholas Cervero following his arrest on a charge of driving while under the influence of drugs.

Jury selection was due to begin Monday in U. S. District Court in Burlington, but the clerk's office was notified the parties had settled, according to Rutland attorney Mark Furlan, who represents Clyde.

Furlan said the $10,000 will be paid by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, which insures the town of Bennington and its police.

The town of Bennington also was initially named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit for reportedly failing to properly train Gullery. That claim was dropped in April 2018 through a joint stipulation.

Gulley faced civil claims of excessive force, lack of due process, false swearing, battery, and false imprisonment, court papers show.

Cervero faced a single count of failing to intercede to stop the assault, the lawsuit said.

Rutland lawyer Kaveh S. Shahi, who defended the two officers, did not respond to multiple messages in recent days.

Shahi, in his written response to the lawsuit, denied the claims. He also listed 26 affirmative defenses, including municipal immunity, qualified immunity, contributory negligence, self-defense and justification.

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Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd said the decision to avert the trial was made by the insurance carrier and the lawyers because the municipality had been dropped as a party more than a year ago.

The trial was scheduled to last about four days, records show.

Clyde was eventually convicted in Vermont Superior Court in Bennington by a jury for driving under the influence of drugs, records show. He was cleared on two other criminal counts - attempted felony escape and disorderly conduct.

The case began after a minor traffic accident Jan. 6, 2015 in Bennington. Clyde was put into handcuffs and taken by Gulley to the Bennington Police Station on South Street, where he was held for five hours and processed for suspected DUI, the lawsuit states.

Gulley, who is now a part-time officer with Manchester Police, then announced he was taking Clyde to the hospital to have his blood drawn, court papers show. Clyde put on his coat and started to walk toward the door.

A scuffle ensued and Gulley grabbed Clyde by his arms and threw him to the ground face first, the lawsuit maintains. Gulley then handcuffed Clyde again and in the process fractured a bone in his wrist, the lawsuit noted.

After he was taken to the hospital for drawing his blood, Clyde was brought back to the police station for another 90 minutes of detention before he was released, the lawsuit maintained.

Clyde said he asked then-Officer Cervero, who was inside the police station, about why the detention was happening. Cervero responded he did not know and never intervened, the lawsuit said.

Cervero is now a Vermont State Trooper assigned to Shaftsbury barracks.

Furlan and Shahi had told the court there was no surveillance video in the hallway where Clyde says he was assaulted. There was video in the police holding room, the judge was told.


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