Reasonable Force Behind The Shed

A lawsuit has been filed against Hartford, Conn., police claiming civil rights violations stemming from an arrest outside a Dave Matthews Band concert at the Meadows Music Theatre two years ago.

Brothers Philip and Christopher Faiella claim they were severely beaten by police July 17, 2004, after being arrested in a parking lot outside what is now known as New England Dodge Music Center, during the second of two DMB shows there.

The lawsuit, filed July 20th in Hartford’s U.S. District Court, accuses officers of violating the Faiellas’ constitutional rights by falsely arresting them, assaulting them after they were detained and using excessive force. The men are seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

Police arrested about 25 people on various charges after two groups in a parking lot began throwing rocks and bottles at each other. Officers used pepper spray and sting balls, which release rubber pellets and irritant gas, to subdue the crowd.

The lawsuit says the brothers were leaving the theatre when the fight broke out between the tailgaters and police began firing rubber pellets and pepper spray. The Faiellas said they ducked under some cars for protection and that’s when officers allegedly got heavy-handed.

Philip Faiella was hit in the head, neck and body and knocked unconscious, the suit says. He was also handcuffed and “dragged across the parking lot” to a police van, where officers beat him while uttering ethnic slurs and spitting on him, according to the suit.

Hartford Police Union attorney Michael Georgetti said the officers acted appropriately under the circumstances.

“There always seems [to be] a small group of individuals who cause problems at these concerts,” Georgetti said. “What I understand and heard, this was a near riot condition and the police were responding to a violent situation and used reasonable force.”

The incident prompted officials to amend policies regarding crowd control. Tailgating is now banned near the facility and no one is allowed into the parking lot without an event ticket.