Appeals court sides with Norwalk in Mimi Lee lawsuit

Aaron Krause • Jul 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

A decision in a federal lawsuit filed against five Norwalk police officers and the city has been upheld by an appeals court.

Norwalk Law Director Stuart O'Hara reported the news of the decision by a district court that was in favor of the city to council at its meeting Tuesday.

In the lawsuit, Norwalk resident Mimi Lee claimed she was injured by officers in connection with a May 2009 arrest. Lee sought $2 million in damages. O'Hara has said one or more of Lee's claims are banned by the statute of limitations.

About 11 p.m., a Fisher-Titus Medical Center nurse directed Officer Jim Montana (who hadn't been promoted to sergeant at that point) to Lee, who had urinated in the parking lot. In his report, Montana said he stopped Lee in her vehicle in the Burger King parking lot after she left the hospital while "peeling the tires slightly" and when she exited her vehicle, she lost her balance.

After charging Lee with driving under the influence, Montana said he and Officer Chris Hipp walked her over to Montana's cruiser, but Lee "refused to get inside." When Montana said he "tried to shift her weight and move her to the car ... she pushed back into me (and) refused to get in the car."

"I grabbed her by the handcuffs and Mimi began screaming and yelling and trying to pull away from us. While pushing back and forth with Mimi, we forced her to the ground to calm her down. Once she calmed down, she agreed to get in the car," he said.

There was another scuffle with Montana later at the station.

Montana was accused of using excessive force by over-tightening the handcuffs and forcing Lee into the cruiser. Lee said she suffered wrist injuries, but Montana has said "she was handcuffed for safety reasons."

O'Hara said technically Lee could appeal to the Supreme Court, but it's unlikely the court would agree to hear the case.

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