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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

Steve O’Connell, a spokesman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said the investigation into Howe’s death was continuing.

A spokesman for state police did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, claims that Howe was beaten after traveling to North Andover from his home in Worcester with two friends to buy a speedboat.

According to the lawsuit, Howe, a passenger in the pickup truck, was smoking a marijuana cigarette when the three men approached the checkpoint. Seeing the police, Howe tried to put out his cigarette and fasten his seatbelt.

The suit claims that a state trooper approached the front passenger side of the truck, where Howe was sitting, and ordered Howe and the driver out of the truck. Howe held both hands up and tried to explain that the cigarette was all he had in his hands, according to the suit.

The suit claims that the trooper then “forcefully removed Kenneth from the truck and screamed, ‘He assaulted me!’”

“At that point, between approximately 10 and 20 law enforcement officers swarmed on Kenneth,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit cites a series of 43 photographs taken by a photographer from The Eagle-Tribune newspaper allegedly showing Howe face-down on the ground surrounded by police officers, some of whom are on top of him and restraining him.

The lawsuit says Howe was dragged to a state police cruiser and taken to state police barracks. He later was taken to Lawrence General Hospital and was pronounced dead shortly after midnight on Nov. 26.

The lawsuit alleges that police used excessive force and were slow to provide medical services.

King called on the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate Howe’s death, saying it is “nothing short of absurd” for state police within the state prosecutor’s office to investigate the actions of other state police.

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