2 officers, Weare face civil suit over 2012 burglary arrest
MANCHESTER — A suit filed against the town of Weare and two of its police officers claims a Manchester man was "brutalized and assaulted" after being caught breaking into an automobile sales business in March 2012, and that the officers later "falsified their reports" and destroyed a video recording of the incident.
An attorney for Shane St. Onge, who served a year in prison after pleading guilty to charges in the incident, filed the suit in Hillsborough Superior Court Wednesday.
It seeks unspecified damages against Weare officers Kenneth Cox and Kimberly McSweeney.
The suit alleges that after Cox and McSweeney responded to an alarm at Route 77 Motors on Concord Stage Road in Weare on March 14, 2012, Cox fired a Taser at St. Onge, as he stood in clear view of the officer with his hands in the air and his palms open.
The suit claims that after the Taser dart pierced St. Onge's skin, Cox sent an electrical charge to the device four times, making statements including "Do you like that," and "Maybe next time you will not break into someplace you are not supposed to be."
The suit also claims that Cox and McSweeney slammed St. Onge's head into the garage's concrete floor, and that Cox interfered with medical personnel who attempted to treat St. Onge.
Afterward, the suit claims, the two officers arranged to destroy security video of the incident and compared notes so that their "untruthful versions" of events would "be consistent with one another."
The complaint accuses Cox and McSweeney of civil assault and battery against St. Onge, and of conspiring to deprive him of due process of law and his civil rights.
The town is accused of failing to properly supervise Cox and McSweeney. The complaint filed by Epsom attorney Tony Soltani accuses the town of having a policy of retaliating against superior officers who initiate internal investigations into police conduct and that "thereby the officers are encouraged to disobey supervisory and command personnel and are free to do as they please while violating the citizens' rights."
Cox, McSweeney and the town have 30 days to respond to the suit once they are served with court papers.
Cox, who currently holds the rank of sergeant, has been identified through payroll records as one of the officers involved in an incident that culminated in the fatal shooting of accused Manchester drug dealer Alex Cora DeJesus last August.
Police Chief John Velleca said Thursday night he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on pending litigation.
The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office has a policy of keeping secret the names of police officers involved in shootings while it investigates the circumstances.
The investigation into the shooting of DeJesus is now in its eighth month.