MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit by a 22-year-old former East Naples man who was punched and pepper-sprayed, alleging the police department wasn’t negligent in supervising or training that officer or others.
The motion to dismiss two counts of the lawsuit filed by Adrian Polanco, who now lives in Texas, contends the city is protected from lawsuits due to sovereign immunity so it can’t be sued for negligent supervision or training; two other counts involve excessive force.
The motion, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, contends Polanco must prove the city knew there were problems or harmful propensities involving Officer Stephen Mariani, 52, who joined the force in 2006 after 20 years as a New York City cop. The motion, filed by attorney Matthew Mandel of Fort Lauderdale, says the lawsuit only alleges the city failed to supervise, oversee or manage its officers.
In a separate answer, the city denies many of Polanco’s claims, although the beating of three men on Feb. 18, 2008, was videotaped in Mariani’s patrol car.
Rafael Katz of Hollywood, who represents Polanco with Adam Balkan of Boca Raton, declined comment.
Mariani, who told the chief what happened, was later suspended without pay for two weeks, assigned to desk duty for 5½ months and put on probation. He returned to duty Aug. 22, 2009. He was exonerated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which issued a letter of guidance. The State Attorney’s Office charged him with misdemeanor battery, but he wasn’t convicted because he entered a pretrial diversion program and was ordered to take six months of anger management classes.