Civil lawsuit pending


A year ago, the family of Daniel Bennett II filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Oxford County and a number of police officers involved in the fatal shooting of the 32-year-old Bennett in January 2000. The family claims the officers violated Bennett’s and their civil rights – including those protected under the Third, Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The Third Amendment protects citizens from unwillingly having troops quartered in their homes, the Fourth protects citizens from illegal search or seizure of their persons or properties, the Fifth Amendment protects against forced self-incrimination and the Fourteenth provides for due process of the law and equal protection.

The trial had been set for this month but defendants filed a motion for dismissal in December, claiming there was not enough evidence for the case to proceed.

On Monday, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Thomas Connolly, filed the family’s answer to that motion, along with several additional affidavits from family members and others opposing the motion to dismiss. Connolly’s filing outlines several key facts in the shooting incident that remain and contention and argues the case should go to a jury trial.

The next step is for attorneys for the officers and county to file an answer to Connolly’s latest filing.

Eventually a federal magistrate will make a recommendation on whether or not the case should go to a jury. That magistrate may also recommend to dismiss some or all of the defendants from the suit. Both sides will also have the right to appeal the magistrate’s recommendation.

Both sides may also be able to appeal any decision by a jury, if the case goes to trial. It could be several more months or even years before the case is ultimately resolved.