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New London council discusses possible settlement with Lance Goode on civil rights lawsuit

New London — The City Council met in executive session Monday night to discuss a proposed settlement of a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by city resident Lance Goode, who claimed police used excessive force and falsely arrested him in April 2010 and then planted drugs on him six months later.

Attorney Conrad O. Seifert, who represented Goode, and attorney Michael J. Rose, who defended the city, said they could not comment Monday. Details of the settlement are expected to be made public if it is approved by the city.

After meeting in closed session for about 45 minutes on the Goode settlement and other issues Monday, the council reconvened but took no action.

Goode, 46, who has numerous felony drug convictions, has a history of contacts with the New London Police Department and is currently incarcerated on charges that he hindered their investigation of the August 2013 shooting death of Jesus “Gee” Pinero. He is being held at the New Haven Correctional Center in lieu of $50,000 bond and has been appearing regularly in the New London court where major crimes are tried.

He brought the civil rights lawsuit in 2012, claiming the department’s former canine officer, Roger Newton, planted a bag of oxycodone near his car during an Oct. 20, 2010, arrest. Goode obtained a copy of the police cruiser video showing the traffic stop and arrest in January 2012.

Newton was placed on administrative leave after the video was made public. The NAACP took up Goode’s cause and demanded a federal investigation of the incident, but an official with the group said she was told the government would not pursue charges against Newtown because of questions about Goode’s credibility.

Newton resigned from the department after the police administration agreed to drop its internal investigation of the incident, but now claims in his own lawsuit against the city that he was put under extreme duress and forced to resign.

In a separate incident in April 2010, Goode said a visit to his mother in a city housing complex led to his being stunned with a Taser and smashed into a wall, resulting in a fractured elbow. He initially named patrolmen Kyle M. Gorra, David McElroy, Wayne Neff, Todd Lynch and Sgt. Lawrence M. Keating in the lawsuit. Lynch, who was not present when Goode was arrested, was dismissed as a defendant. Gorra has since joined the state police. McElroy resigned from his job last week and was charged with workers compensation fraud.

According to the court documents, Lynch had posted a no-trespassing letter naming Goode at a New London Housing Authority complex where Goode’s mother lived. While visiting his mother, Goode was involved in the struggle with police and charged with trespassing, interfering with an officer, assault on a police officer and possession of narcotics. A New London prosecutor dismissed the charges, saying the “no trespassing” letter against Goode should never have been issued, according to the lawsuit.

In March 2013, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton had denied the city’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit, noting that both of Goode’s claims shared a common thread of “manufactured criminality” and that it was plausible the city had an informal custom of tolerating police misconduct.

The case had moved on to the next stage, with attorneys for the defendants filing motions for summary judgment and filing briefs in support or opposition. A settlement conference was held before Judge Thomas P. Smith earlier this month and the parties agreed on a settlement, but it is subject to approval by the city.

k.florin@theday.com

Twitter: @KFLORIN

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