By Chris O’Brien
BU News Service
BOSTON — A jury ruled in favor of Peabody police in federal court Tuesday following a five day trial on whether police used excessive force on a then-teenager during an arrest that attorneys said gave the man a traumatic brain injury, resulting in seizures following the incident.
“We’re very happy with this verdict,” Defense Attorney Stephen Pfaff said with a wink after four and a half hours of jury deliberations.
The civil suit stemmed from a fight during the arrest of then-16-year-old Tyler Leger-Broskey by Peabody Police Officers David McGovern and Antonio Santos in March 2015. Leger-Broskey claimed officers assaulted him during the arrest in a McDonald’s bathroom, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury resulting in seizures.
“What they’ve done is wrong. He could have died in that cell … if I didn’t ask them to take him to the hospital,” Melissa Faulkner, Leger-Broskey’s mother said Tuesday after the verdict. “It’s been a long road. I will continue to fight for justice, just with other means. I will continue to stand up and advocate and continue on as a family and be stronger.”
During closing arguments, the family’s lawyers focused on the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the officers involved in the suit. The prosecution raised questions about a police report altered by McGovern the day after the arrest and the fact that none of the officers present for the arrest tried to secure camera footage from the restaurant or speak to any witnesses.
“Defendant McGovern was a bully with a badge,” said prosecutor Mark Loevy Reyes.
The defense denied any animosity toward the boys by the officers involved, calling the allegation that the boys were thrown against a brick wall when they were initially stopped “not reasonable or credible,” as it happened on a busy street during peak traffic.
The defense also alleged that the injuries sustained by the plaintiff during his arrest were consistent with resisting arrest, and defended the officer’s use of pepper spray on the plaintiff while he lay beneath two officers nearly twice his size.
“[McGovern] used the amount of force objectively reasonable to stop the resisting,” Pfaff said.
The defense also claimed the seizures were not from the concussion he received during the arrest, citing a car accident the plaintiff was involved in months after the incident. During the crash, according to police responding to the accident, Leger-Broskey was not restrained and his car had a “spidered” windshield.
The prosecution denied this was the case, citing a medical report that indicated Leger-Broskey only sustained a superficial wound on the forehead from the crash.
The officers shook hands and congratulated each other as they left U.S. District Court.