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Family Names 33 Officers in Wrongful Death Suit

Family Names 33 Officers in Wrongful Death Suit

The AP via YellowBrix

January 27, 2010

BOSTON – The family of a Massachusetts man who died in police custody after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, alleging that police beat him to death.

The federal civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit filed by Kenneth Howe’s wife and three children names dozens of state troopers, local police officers and county sheriff’s deputies, many of whom were assigned to a checkpoint in North Andover on Nov. 25.

Family attorney Frances King cited a finding by a state medical examiner who ruled Howe’s death a homicide caused by “blunt impact of head and torso with compression of chest.” Cardiovascular disease was listed as a contributory condition.

Authorities say Howe, 45, was taken into custody after striking a trooper and trying to flee. They say he slumped over and became unresponsive while being booked at the state police barracks. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. ad_icon

King, however, dismissed those claims.

“There is no rationale and no justification for beating this man to death,” King said at a news conference, where she was flanked by Howe’s wife and two of his daughters.

Lenny Kesten, an attorney for the North Andover police officers named in the lawsuit, called King’s claims “irresponsible.” Kesten said Howe struggled with police and was conscious and alert when he was put into a state police cruiser.

“It’s tragic that this man lost his life,” he said. “It’s a tragedy for his family and friends. Everybody regrets that it happened, but no police officer murdered him or tried to. It was a struggle and he passed away.”

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