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Lawyer: officer’s statement contradicts initial report

October 27, 2012
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

LAKE PLACID - A lawyer for a Watertown woman who filed a federal claim against two Lake Placid police officers says the officers filed conflicting accounts about what happened during the incident in question.

Taryn Stanfa, 21, filed a civil complaint Wednesday with the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, claiming she was assaulted, battered and falsely arrested by Patrolman James D. Staats on the morning of Jan. 21 in the Cold Brook Plaza parking lot. She also alleges that Patrolman Matthew J. Braunius committed gross negligence when he failed to intervene.

Stanfa and a friend were parked in front of the Hannaford supermarket on that date and entered the store to use a bathroom. An employee told them the store was closed, and they went back to their vehicle. They remained in the parking lot because they couldn't locate their keys, prompting a store employee to call state police, who in turn called village police. Staats and Braunius responded to the scene.

The officers wrote in their report that Stanfa and her female passenger were intoxicated and incoherent. They also reported that Stanfa gave them a glass smoking device with marijuana residue and a can of pepper spray, both of which the officers subsequently destroyed.

The officers said Stanfa was violent and uncooperative while being interviewed. Stanfa claims Staats slammed her into the pavement before handcuffing her and placing in a police cruiser. She was never charged with an offense.

Stanfa's lawyer, Matt Norfolk of Lake Placid, said Friday that a statement filed by Braunius after the village was served with Stanfa's original notice of claim "contradicts the initial complaint report." That report indicates that Stanfa's passenger - not Stanfa - was in possession of the marijuana smoking device and that she turned it over to Braunius, not Staats.

"Also, Braunius reports that Staats pulled a can of pepper spray from Stanfa's car after she was detained," Norfolk wrote in an email. "The initial report states that Stanfa handed Staats the pepper spray and the pipe during the interview - both Stanfa and Braunius' account of what happen do not jive with this. When you compare Braunius' statement with the initial Complaint Report, you will see many more glaring inconsistencies."

Norfolk obtained a copy of Braunius' statement through the Freedom of Information Law. He shared a copy with the Enterprise because it is a public document. The statement does indicate that the passenger was in possession of the pipe and the pepper spray.

Braunius' statement also claims that there was an open container of Twisted Tea in the center console of Stanfa's 2000 Dodge Neon, and that her passenger, who was under the age of 21 at the time, had a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in a bag that belonged to her.

Braunius also interviewed the night manager and another employee at Hannaford, who said the two females were found "walking around in Hannaford and had to be told to leave multiple times before they did."

Braunius also said he asked Stanfa whether she had been injured when Staats handcuffed her and that she responded "no."

Braunius also stated that Stanfa and the other woman appeared to be highly drunk and high.

Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or




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