Riverhead settles false arrest suit for ‘substantial amount’

The Riverhead Town Board on Thursday authorized the settlement of a 1996 lawsuit accusing Riverhead police of false arrest.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court by Anthony Wayne Smith of Riverhead, names the town along with two police officers, James Lydon and Darren Fulton, as defendants.

The lawsuit states that on Feb. 1, 1995, Mr. Smith was arrested at a bus stop on West Main Street and Griffing Avenue for “asserting his right to freedom of speech” and goes on to accuse the town police of unreasonable search and seizure, false arrest and imprisonment, unreasonable and excessive force and remanding Mr. Smith for psychiatric tests without cause.

The suit also claims Town Justice Court officials refused to set a racially fair cross section to sit on Mr. Smith’s jury.

In the suit, Mr. Smith was seeking $100,000 in punitive damages and $100,000 in compensatory damages on each of 12 counts, which would total $2.4 million.

Although the board voted to approve the settlement offer, board members interviewed after the meeting either didn’t know the amount of the settlement or were unsure if the figure could be released.

Councilman Jim Wooten said the settlement was a monetary one and that it was “a substantial amount.”

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