East Haven to Appeal New Malik Jones Ruling
After 13 years, East Haven is back in the spotlight following the announcement of a $900,000 award for the family of Malik Jones, who was killed in 1997 by then-East Haven Police Officer Robert Flodquist. While an investigation cleared Flodquist of any wrongdoing—Flodquist had engaged in vehicular pursuit of known criminal Jones from East Haven into Fair Haven and then shot Jones, who the investigation determined was driving his vehicle at the officer—a federal court later found the town responsible for violating Jones's civil rights.
In 2007, 10 years after the incident that sparked allegations of excessive force and racism by the East Haven Police Department, the incident was revisited in federal court. U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson overturned a previous ruling mandating East Haven to award Jones's mother, Emma Jones, $2.5 million in damages. Thompson based his ruling on a U.S. Supreme Court decision shielding municipalities from punitive damages. As part of the decision, Thompson allowed a new trial for compensatory damages; the result is this latest ruling, which the town intends to appeal.
"We knew there would be a verdict against us,” said attorney Hugh Keefe, who represents East Haven in the matter. “It would have been a different outcome if we put in the evidence we wanted,” including Jones’s lengthy arrest record.
According to Keefe, the town is not seeking to settle.
“We knocked down the amount by nearly two-thirds” from the original $2.5 million award, “but I won’t be happy until it’s zero,” Keefe said. “He shouldn’t collect a dime. He was trying to run over Officer Flodquist.”
Following the decision, Mayor April Capone Almon issued the following release:
"This case was retried this week in federal court in Hartford before Judge Alvin Thompson. As you may remember, it was tried the first time about seven years ago before the same judge. In that first trial, a $2.5 million verdict was returned against the Town of East Haven and that verdict was subsequently vacated as illegal.
"Yesterday, the lawyer for the estate of Malik Jones asked the jury for a verdict of at least $4 million. The jury returned a verdict today of $900,000. Just as it was in the first trial, our attorneys fully expect that this second verdict will also be vacated and set aside based on errors committed by the trial judge.
"While I have sympathy for any family who loses a child under any circumstance, our officers have a duty and a right to uphold the law and return safely to their own families at the end of every shift.
"In light of the fact that this is still an ongoing case, there will be no further comment from me or any employee or official of the Town of East Haven."
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