Professor Arrested, Assaulted, For Having A Medical Emergency

“Defendant’s motion describes facts so extreme and unusual that this can truly be deemed sui generis,” Judge Statsinger wrote.

The confusion and trouble began that day when Officer Anthony Giambra arrived at the apartment door a few minutes after the 911 call, as an ambulance and fire truck pulled up outside. Ms. LaFont started to tell Officer Giambra about her husband’s condition, but the dog broke loose and raced into the street. She went after the animal.

When she returned, Officer Giambra had thrown Mr. Peltomaa up against a hallway wall and was trying to handcuff him. The professor’s surgical wound was pressed hard against the surface, she said. She gripped the officer’s shoulder and yelled at him to stop. “You’re under arrest,” the officer told her, as another officer hustled her back into her apartment and handcuffed her.

In a sworn complaint, Officer Giambra said Mr. Peltomaa was “an emotionally disturbed person” who “indicated that he was willing to be placed in handcuffs for his protection.” But, the complaint said, when the officer tried to “place Mr. Peltomaa in handcuffs to restrain and protect him,” the physics professor fought back, kicking the officer in the groin and shins. The officer said Ms. LaFont then pulled on his arm for a full minute, yelling “Get off him!”

Officer Giambra and his commanding officer, Capt. Michael Falcon, did not return telephone messages on Thursday. The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment on the judge’s decision.

Mr. Peltomaa denies he ever fought with Officer Giambra, though he recalls being confused about why he needed handcuffs to go the hospital. After he was cuffed, he said, the officer shoved him down face first on the tile floor, splitting open his chin and dislocating his thumb.

Then the officers flipped Mr. Peltomaa over, grabbed him by his clothes and dragged him to the ambulance. Ms. LaFont said she was taken to the precinct and put in a squalid cell. Officer Giambra, munching a candy bar, told her Mr. Peltomaa was fine and would be home before she would. “He said he needed to teach me the lesson that you are never allowed to touch a police officer,” she recalled.

Mr. Peltomaa would spend two days in St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center with five stitches in his chin and electronic monitors keeping tabs on his ailing heart.

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