“Gotta Cover our A**” CT Activist Settled for $50,000 from Police

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- On 11 September 2015, Liberty Activist Michael Picard was protesting a Connecticut speed trap when he was accosted, his property illegally seized, and three Connecticut State Troopers conspired to violate his rights and charge him with disturbing the peace. This correspondent wrote about the situation in 2016. Here is how Picard described the situation back then.

Here are the words of Michael Picard:

Back on Friday, September 11th, 2015, in West Hartford, CT, I was illegally detained, frisked and searched, and my gun, permit and camera were seized, I was threatened with arrest for interfering (apparently, freedom of speech passes for interfering), and the Connecticut State Police fabricated a story, on camera, to trump up the charges because they needed to charge me with something (“Let’s give him something.”) to cover their ass (“Gotta cover our ass.”), charging me with “creating a public disturbance” for legally open carrying my firearm and “negligent pedestrian” for legally holding up a sign on public property, as well as being threatened with arrest (again) if I did not pay the fine. I was detained for 40 minutes and charged for nothing more than legally open carrying and holding up a sign on public property. I never touched my gun once and I am a legal gun owner. My lawyer and I went to the first court appearance back on Thursday, January 14th, 2016, where the prosecutor offered a $25 fine, in lieu of the original $300 fine, to make the case go away. I rejected the deal because I did nothing wrong. As of now, the prosecutor has not dropped the case despite having video evidence of police misconduct. The trial date has been set for Monday, April 25th, 2016, at 9:30am, at the New Britain courthouse (20 Franklin Sq., New Britain, CT).

Picard filed a lawsuit against the State Troopers on 15 September 2016.

All three officers involved in the incident have retired after being cleared by Internal affairs. From ctinsider.com:

Barone, who is now retired, and the other two state police troopers, Patrick Torneo and John Jacobi, now also retired, were exonerated of any wrongdoing by a state police internal affairs investigation, the lawsuit said.

Picard sued in 2016 claiming the encounter violated his First Amendment free speech rights and Fourth Amendments rights against the unlawful seizure of property. A federal court judge agreed in September to allow the Fourth Amendment portion of the lawsuit to move forward to a trial.

Over three years after the lawsuit was filed, on January 21, 2020, there was a settlement. Michael Picard settled for $50,000. From acluct.org:

Complete video footage of the incident, as gathered by Picard’s camera while it was on top of Torneo’s cruiser and with closed captioning added, is available here [warning: this link will take you to YouTube, a third-party website].

In 2020, the lawsuit was settled. According to the settlement agreement, the State of Connecticut agreed to pay Picard approximately $1,800 for every minute that the defendants detained him (a total of $50,000), in exchange for his dismissing the lawsuit.

“In a free society, it is normal and necessary for people to protest the government, including police. If police violate people’s fundamental right to peacefully protest, those police employees should be held accountable. In addition to the human costs of poor police behavior, there can also be financial costs for taxpayers. I hope my story sends a message to police departments that they cannot ignore the constitution without consequences,” said Picard after the settlement.

While the officers involved may have been concerned about the lawsuit, they were cleared by internal affairs, in spite of the evidence against them. They suffered little personal loss. After five years of litigation, one can only wonder how much of the $50,000 went to Picard’s lawyer fees and court costs.

There may be a cumulative, positive, effect. In November of 2018, Basel Soukaneh was stopped, arrested, and searched in Waterbury, Connecticut. He filed a lawsuit for violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

On 6 August 2021, the United States District Court, District of Columbia, ruled the officer did not have qualified immunity in the incident. The court case has been covered in a recent AmmoLand article.

Police are being shown, by the courts, an armed citizen is not a legal cause for them to violate citizens’ rights. Much of the positive effect can be attributed to the digital revolution and the ubiquity of recording devices.

Police in cities, in the United States, has a long history of being enforcers for the political bosses of their city.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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nature223
nature223 (@nature223)
3 months ago

interesting the three cops were found not guilty of “any wrongdoing” but then retired. bet it was a “hey guys, he’s really going to rape us if you hang out, and frankly, you’re f****d, you had better take that golden parachute, or we’re going to have to make you get it badly, no lube, no kiss, and no foreplay in the public eye. he has you a**holes dead to rights.” so that put three dirty cops out on the street, with borderline disgrace hanging over them. no longer able to f*** with the public and the REST of them put… Read more »

GomeznSA
GomeznSA (@gomeznsa)
3 months ago

Dean – ya wanna make a gentleman’s wager that the pending lawsuit by the Babbitt family will drag out at least as long as this one did. After all, Ashli’s murderer has already been ‘exonerated’ twice by the equivalent of internal affairs. He now has the gall to claim in public that he ‘saved a lot of lives’ that day. Still waiting for him to claim that he kept always off course from being killed and raped………………………

waterfowler19
waterfowler19 (@waterfowler19)
3 months ago
Reply to  GomeznSA

Babbitt was a clown. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes

Hazcat
Hazcat (@havoc816)
3 months ago

“Police in cities, in the United States, has a long history of being enforcers for the political bosses of their city.”
About time for people to realize the police are not your friends. They are government enforcers. The more corrupt the government, the more corrupt the police. “Just doing my job” as they violate your rights.

The military is now in this camp as well. And yes, they will help confiscate your guns!

Last edited 3 months ago by Hazcat
Happy Everafter
Happy Everafter (@mart3)
3 months ago

Shoulda added $50,000 per month for every month before the settlement was reached. At least he could have paid for the lawyer…. or a few weekly visits from Maria….

JimmyS
JimmyS (@jimmys)
3 months ago

That’s not very good money for a prostitute, Maria. You must not be very….bankable.

JSNMGC
JSNMGC (@jsnmgc)
3 months ago

“Picard filed a lawsuit against the State Troopers on 15 September 2016.” Is that true? It is diffuclut to follow the article, but it appears as though Picard sued the State of Connecticut and the taxpayers paid for the bad decisions of enforcers (as is typical): “the State of Connecticut agreed to pay Picard approximately $1,800 for every minute that the defendants detained him (a total of $50,000), in exchange for his dismissing the lawsuit.” The article takes another twist at the end: “On 6 August 2021, the United States District Court, District of Columbia, ruled the officer did not… Read more »

JSNMGC
JSNMGC (@jsnmgc)
3 months ago

Thanks Dean. Just to clarify:

  • The 2016 lawsuit filed by Picard was against the state of Connecticut
  • Picard did not file any lawsuit against any individual Connecticut State Troopers
  • Soukaneh filed a lawsuit against individual Waterbury, Connecticut police officers regarding a different incident.

Is that correct?

Last edited 3 months ago by JSNMGC
JSNMGC
JSNMGC (@jsnmgc)
3 months ago

Thanks.

It’s surprising to me that the state would pay to settle lawsuits in which they were not the defendants.

This should be a part of all SAPA legislatoin – the state (taxpayers) will not pay to settle lawsuits against enforcers.

Knute
Knute
3 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

Indeed the State shouldn’t… but then they wouldn’t have the brutal enforcers that a tyrannical State requires.

JSNMGC
JSNMGC (@jsnmgc)
3 months ago
Reply to  Knute

I suspect that is the reason for them stepping in – so the other enforcers feel more comfortable following orders without repercussions.

Heed the Call-up
Heed the Call-up (@daveeckartverizon-net)
3 months ago
Reply to  Knute

Most of the lawsuits againt the police are frivilous, and it is proper for the department to provide legal coverage for them. In this instance, and others where the officer(s) are clearly not acting according to their department’s policies and the law, they should not have qualified immunity. However, this would likely lead to departments claiming it was not their policy, even if it weren’t unlawful, forcing the officer(s) involved to get a lawyer to fight the department to rightly cover them. In the end, it would likely cost us, the taxpayers, even more. You are likely correct, that there… Read more »

swmft
swmft
3 months ago

most??? there are so many police on a power trip that some is believable but most just dont have enough supporting evidence I worked dea in the bad old days and saw so few good cops and the few good cops are afraid of the others fhp female chases a bso driving recklessly on turnpike (late for his shift) arrests him she has her life threatned by more than 50 police not a hey there good call

JSNMGC
JSNMGC (@jsnmgc)
3 months ago

No one suggested eliminating qualified immunity. According to Dean, the individual enforcers were sued by Picard and the state stepped in and paid a settlement. The article implied that qualified immunity was not available to the three enforcers Picard sued due to their egregious behavior. It would have been helpful if the article was more clear. You stated: “However, this would likely lead to departments claiming it was not their policy, even if it weren’t unlawful, forcing the officer(s) involved to get a lawyer to fight the department to rightly cover them. In the end, it would likely cost us,… Read more »

Heed the Call-up
Heed the Call-up (@daveeckartverizon-net)
3 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

Why do you think the department (taxpayers) should “cover them?” I didn’t say I did. I won’t bother to restate what I already posted, just re-read it. I suspect that is the reason for them stepping in – so the other enforcers feel more comfortable following orders without repercussions. That statement certainly does not seem to imply that you believe in officers having qualified immunity, which the rest of your prior posts also appear imply. @swmft, I did not state there are not “bad” officers, clearly this incident proves that. I have known a number of officers in the past,… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Heed the Call-up
JSNMGC
JSNMGC (@jsnmgc)
3 months ago

You wrote, and I quoted above,:

“rightly cover them”

I took that to mean you believed the department should cover them. What did you mean by “rightly?

JSNMGC
JSNMGC (@jsnmgc)
3 months ago

Just saw your edit. I do believe in qualified immunity. I don’t believe in not-so-qualified immunity. The statement I wrote: “I suspect that is the reason for them stepping in – so the other enforcers feel more comfortable following orders without repercussions.” related to the Picard case and any similar cases of abuse of authority. Even in cases in which enforcers abuse their authority, their bosses step in and save them (not in every case). In cases of abuse of people’s rights, enforcers should be punished. In cases of significant abuse, they should lose everything they own (including assets they… Read more »

Heed the Call-up
Heed the Call-up (@daveeckartverizon-net)
3 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

I agree, and I did state that in the first paragraph of my initial post to you.

In this instance, and others where the officer(s) are clearly not acting according to their department’s policies and the law, they should not have qualified immunity.

JSNMGC
JSNMGC (@jsnmgc)
3 months ago

Ok, I misunderstood by what you meant by “rightly.”

Peace.

nature223
nature223 (@nature223)
3 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

I sure as hell would.
I’d drag them in for illegal detainment, usurping my personal freedom under color of legal authority and sue the sh*t out of them for denying me my constitutional rights to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
if nothing else I’d rape them for playing games while wearing a badge to cover their own a**es, when they had no legal authority for detaining or arresting him, and crafting false charges.