Margate police suit goes federal — (Press of Atlantic City)

SSRI Ed note: Man on antidepressants treated like a criminal by police, accounts what led to the altercation differ.

Original article no longer available

Press of Atlantic City

October 22, 2003

By JOHN BRAND Staff Writer, (609) 272-7275

MARGATE – Thomas P. Gallagher felt ill Aug. 11, 2001 because of a doctor-prescribed switch in anxiety and depression medication, his attorney said.

Working at Ventura’s Greenhouse Restaurant, Gallagher stepped outside for air.

Later, his father, an ambulance and police arrived and the situation snowballed.

Before long, the then-21-year-old Margate man found himself face down in the rear of an ambulance in handcuffs.

Gallagher, 23, recently filed a six-count civil lawsuit against the Margate Police Department and six of its officers.

But since the complaint alleges constitutional violations, the case has been moved to the federal court in Camden County.

Gallagher, of N. Thurlow Avenue, was not arrested or charged during the incident.

But his attorney, Arthur Murray, claims his client suffered emotional injuries because the police – suspecting he was high on drugs – treated him like a criminal.

“(The police) allowed a situation that should have been a simple medical call to escalate,” Murray said. “They had no probable cause to think he did anything wrong.”

Lt. Thomas Rizzotte, Sgt. Mark Ciambrone and Officers Thomas Kresz, Barry Ballurio, William Bowen and Robert Edge are listed as defendants.

The officers are accused of restraining Gallagher without sufficient or reasonable cause and assault and battery. The lawsuit charges that their conduct violated Gallagher’s constitutional rights.

However, a Margate police incident report claims Gallagher was pacing, incoherent and combative.

Police reportedly witnessed Gallagher strike his father, also named Thomas, in the face while outside the restaurant.

The police attempted to restrain the younger Gallagher, but he became combative fell to the ground and said he rejected Satan and believed in Jesus Christ, police said.

At the request of medical personnel, the officers said they handcuffed him and accompanied him to Atlantic City Medical Center, City Division, the report said.

Three of the six officers involved claimed they suffered minor injuries during the altercation, police said.

Attorney Richard Goldstein could not be reached Tuesday to comment on the officer’s behalf.

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