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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Tuesday, January 15

City Put On Notice

I sent a FOIL yesterday to the city, requesting the Letter of Intent (Which I guess is also referred to as a Notice of Claim) sent from Lee Kindlon to the city, putting them on notice that he and his client, Jeffrey Bennett, are pursuing a civil case against it.

For those who haven't read the stories, three officers were suspended after a fight at Dango Fitzgerald's Irish Pub on Caroline Street.  The off-duty officers were later identified as John Guzek, Mark Leffler and Ed Braim, the later allegedly being the instigator in the altercation and the one who was eventually charged with third-degree assault. Braim was forced to resign  and the charge was ACOD'd, but that doesn't appear to have been the end of his troubles.

Last week, the city was put on notice that it may be the target of an upcoming lawsuit, also targeting Braim and possibly the other two off-duty officers.

It came in today, so I figured I'd put it up, as well as the press release issued by Kindlon yesterday morning.

As I said in the story in today's paper, Kindlon and Bennett paint a different picture than the police did of that altercation. 

Police Chief Chris Cole said after the investigation that the police don't believe a single punch was thrown, whereas this letter states that the THREE officers "physically forced him against a parked vehicle" and then Braim "physically assaulted" Bennett while "Officers Mark Leffler and John Guzek stood by and watched...."

Here is the press release put out by Kindlon yesterday morning, as well:

 Victim of Former Saratoga Springs Police Officer Ed Braim to file suit
Lee Kindlon, the attorney for Jeffrey Bennett, is moving forward with plans to file a civil suit against the City of Saratoga Springs and a now-former member of its Police Department.  Jeffrey Bennett was the victim of former Saratoga Springs Police Officer Edward Braim, who, as a result of this assault, was forced to resign from his position as a police officer.   
Last week, Kindlon filed notice on behalf of his client signaling that he intends to seek damages against Mr. Braim and the City of Saratoga for an assault that occurred November 12, 2012.  Ed Braim and two other Saratoga Springs police officers viciously attacked and beat Mr. Bennett outside Dango Fitzgerald’s Pub on November 12, 2012.  Criminal charges were later filed against Braim, who was represented by Andrew Safranko. 
According to witnesses and court documents, while two other off-duty police officers stood by, Braim, who had not known the victim prior to that night, slammed Mr. Bennett into the side of a vehicle parked outside the bar causing injuries that included difficulty breathing, redness, swelling and contusions to his torso, neck and wrist.  The fight began between Braim and another man; Bennett had intervened to defuse the situation.   Braim, instead, focused his anger upon the peace-maker.
             This is not Mr. Braim’s first allegation of assault.  Back in 2009, Skidmore student John Capitani was accused of assaulting Mr. Braim, only to have the charges dropped on the day of trial.  Six different witnesses came forward to state that then-Officer Braim had, in fact, assaulted the student.  Because of this proof, those charges were dropped.  Questions remained, however, about what, if anything, the City of Saratoga did following these disclosures to rein-in Officer Braim. 
             “Ed Braim had been a problem in Saratoga Springs for a while.  The City of Saratoga has known this for years.  We are asking for accountability, not just from Ed Braim but from the City of Saratoga,” said Lee Kindlon of Kindlon Shanks & Associates.

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