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Four Atlantic City police officers cleared of excessive force charge

Four Atlantic City police officers cleared of excessive force charge

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ATLANTIC CITY — Four police officers have been cleared of allegations they used excessive force on a Toms River man and violated his civil rights, officials said Wednesday.

A federal jury returned a unanimous verdict clearing K-9 Officer George Adams and Patrolmen Daniel Corcoran, William Beattie and Christian Garofalo Monday, according to court documents and a statement released later Wednesday by the city Solicitor’s Office.

The decision concluded a lawsuit filed nearly four years ago by Gregory Ferrentino, whom the officers arrested Sept. 3, 2006, using Adams’ K-9 partner Dak, the release and court documents said.

Officers chased Ferrentino, and when they caught and attempted to arrest him, he “began to violently struggle,” prompting the officers to call Adams, the release said.

Ferrentino’s complaint says he was standing with his hands behind his head for three minutes when Beattie struck him in the head from behind just before Adams deployed Dak.

Ferrentino pleaded guilty in 2007 to eluding, resisting arrest and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. He filed his lawsuit May 15, 2008, seeking $1 million for alleged negligence, assault and battery, civil-rights violations and failing to intervene, the release said.

The cost to the city to try the case was not immediately available Wednesday. But Ferrentino’s attorney Stephen Barry said officials haven’t tried to recover any of the money from his client.

And the likely won’t, said attorney Tracy Riley, whose firm started representing the city on the case after it was well under way.

“In this instance, seeking (legal fees) ... there wouldn’t be anything to get,” Riley said. “There’s no property interest or money interest I’m aware of to even pursue it from this particular plaintiff.”

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