Mohegan Sun patron wins excessive force case

Uncasville — A judge has awarded more than $90,000 to a patron of the Mohegan Sun casino, ruling that an officer used excessive force against him.

Chief Judge Paul Guernsey of the Mohegan Gaming Disputes Court awarded $92,344 to Jerry D'Ambra Jr. of Warwick, R.I. He ruled last month that an officer used excessive force during a takedown maneuver, resulting in a painful knee injury that required surgery and 33 sessions of physical therapy.

The force applied to the back of D'Ambra's knee, enough to break off a two-inch piece of bone, "was far beyond what was objectively reasonable under the circumstances," Guernsey wrote.

The judge said D'Ambra was arrested "for behavior that can only be described as drunken and obnoxious." He said there was probable cause to arrest him for breach of peace and he was handcuffed at the time.

The officer, Todd Maikshilo, testified that D'Ambra tried to lunge or pull away from him and that he performed the maneuver to prevent him from falling or escaping.

Robert Rhodes, an attorney for the tribe, says the officer was trying to prevent the intoxicated patron from falling forward and injuring himself. He says he's considering an appeal.

"Obviously we don't agree with the judge's opinion in this case," Rhodes said, adding no one testified the maneuver was done incorrectly.

D'Ambra's attorney, Mary Puhlick, says she's happy with the decision. She said her client disputes accounts of his behavior, saying he became upset after the incident.

"It was a very serious injury," Puhlick said. "I think under the circumstances it was the right result. My client is happy with the result."

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