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Virginia Beach Police, union back officer in excessive force lawsuit

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jul 03, 2015

Virginia Beach, Va. - A Virginia Beach woman has filed a lawsuit against a Virginia Beach Police officer for excessive force.

Ashley Scirrotto's lawyer, Tim Anderson, sent NewsChannel 3 pictures that he said she took after being arrested for public intoxication.

Scirrotto said she suffered unnecessary injuries on her wrists, legs and other parts of her body during her time in police custody on June 20th.

“I don't trust police that's it... especially now,” said Scirrotto.

“She was manhandled by this officer,” said Anderson.

The Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association 34 Union President Brian Luciano strongly disagrees and issued this statement saying the association would assist the officer with filing a counter lawsuit against the complainant:

PBA34 attorneys have viewed evidence that will discredit these claims. Our team of experts, along with the PBA Board, will defend our officer to the obvious conclusion of exoneration. Then we will assist the officer with a counter lawsuit of her own. We refuse to stand by while our police officers are attacked and smeared with no basis in fact. Being a public servant does not mean that anyone can make false claims without repercussions. We also call upon the city to immediately make the evidence of the events public.

In a unique move the next day Police Chief Jim Cervera issued his own statement backing the officer:

As you are aware, a VBPD officer is currently facing a law suit over an alleged use of excessive force during an arrest. Just to be clear, any officer who faces a law suit, based on actions taken as part of their duties as a police officer, will be indemnified and defended by the City of Virginia Beach.

In this recent case, there is no evidence that the officer, facing this recent suit, acted unlawfully or outside of policy. After I briefed the City Attorney’s Office, it was decided that the City of Virginia Beach and the VBPD will provide a vigorous defense for the officer and indemnify the officer, even though the City of Virginia Beach has not been named in the lawsuit. By doing so, the City has opted to voluntarily become enjoined as a defendant in this action. Please keep in mind that, as part of our internal review, this case will be finalized by the officer’s command.

Please know that the command staff of this agency, and the City of Virginia Beach, will always defend the proper actions of our officers so that our officers will not have to face such daunting actions alone.

Other accusations of excessive force in Virginia Beach put a strain on the relationship between the chief and some officers in the department.

The union president said in this specific case has increased communication.

Luciano said, "Our message is that if you plan to do that and there's no basis for that the organization and in this case the city and the department is going to stand together and fight back.”

But Anderson and his client disagree.

"No one should go into police custody and come out looking like she did with a drunk in public charge,” said Anderson.