WINSLOW — The town has asked a federal judge to issue a decision in its favor without a trial on two of three counts in a lawsuit alleging use of excessive force by police officers on a resident.

A Winslow man filed the suit in January 2014, claiming that he suffered physical and psychological injuries at the hands of three officers — two full-time and one reserve — who responded to his home on Jan. 2, 2012.

William Sadulsky filed the suit in U.S. District Court in January 2014, saying that Winslow Police officers Haley Fleming, Joshua Veilleux and reserve officer Michael Michaud were called to a noise complaint at Sadulsky’s Quimby Lane residence, but it turned into an altercation between Sadulsky and the officers.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Fleming forced his way into his residence and used his Taser repeatedly against Sadulsky without provocation.

Sadulsky, who was 65 years old at the time, was arrested and charged with assaulting Fleming and Michaud and refusing to submit to arrest. A jury acquitted Sadulsky of assaulting Fleming, but found him guilty of assaulting Michaud in a September 2012 trial. The other charge was dismissed before trial.

The town this month filed a motion for summary judgment, which allows a judge to decide a case based on state law and on legal precedent when there are no questions of fact that must be decided by a jury. The town is asking for the ruling on counts that the officers illegally entered Sadulsky’s home, used excessive force and falsely imprisoned him.

A remaining charge, that Fleming used excessive force when using his Taser on Sadulsky, is not included in the motion. Fleming and Sadulsky gave different versions of events in sworn depositions, which could leave it up to a jury to decide the question of facts.

Police were called to Sadulsky’s home after a neighbor complained about noise from a wood chipper he was using after 8 p.m. in the evening. He and Fleming gave different versions of the circumstances that led to the police officer using a Taser. Sadulsky claimed that he was standing with his hands up when the device was used.

Fleming said he and Michaud were attacked by an agitated Sadulsky when they arrived at the residence, leading to a physical struggle at which point he deployed the Taser, which did not function properly. Fleming said he then used the Taser device in a stun gun mode to subdue Sadulsky.

Sadulsky alleges that the town is responsible for damages because it did not adequately train, supervise or discipline its officers. He is seeking damages for what he claimed were physical and psychological injuries as a result of the officers’ actions, according to the complaint. The suit was amended last October to assert allegations that his wife, Sarah Sadulsky, also suffered psychological injuries.

Fleming and Veilleux are full-time Winslow police officers, but Michaud no longer works for the town because he took a job out of state, according to Police Chief Shawn O’Leary.

In an interview, Sadulsky’s attorney, Joseph Baldacci of Bangor, said that his client was not attacking an officer or even issuing threats when he was hit by the stun gun.

“The issue is really about excessive use of force,” Baldacci said.

In its motion for summary judgment, filed March 27, the town claims it has no liability because Sadulsky cannot prove it did not adequately train and supervise the officers. The town had received no complaints about the three officers before the incident, according to an affidavit from Town Manager Michael Heavener.

The motion claims that under Maine state law, the town is immune from suit except for specific issues.

“The town feels confident that it will prevail,” Heavener said in an interview.

The town claims that by Sadulsky’s own testimony in a January deposition, neither Veilleux nor Michaud was in the house when Sadulsky was Tased and handcuffed, and that Veilleux never touched him.

The town’s attorney also argued that since Sadulsky was convicted of assaulting Michaud, the police officers had probable cause to arrest him at the scene.

“Given the undisputed facts in the case, Sadulsky can’t make a claim against the town,” said Edward Benjamin, an attorney with the Drummond Woodsum firm. Benjamin specializes in defending police officers and was brought onto the case through the Maine Municipal Association risk insurance pool.

The town’s legal position is that the only factual dispute in the case involves conflicting testimony from Fleming and Sadulsky in depositions about what happened in the residence, Benjamin said.

Both sides agree that the charge of excessive force against Fleming is likely headed for a jury trial.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.