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Thursday, December 17, 2009

[NY] LAWSUIT LOOMING: Slain detective's wife Kristin Palumbo-Longo was promised she'd be protected. Family wants "TRUTH" & "CHANGE"


Gina Pearce, the administer of the estate and Kristin Palumbo-Longo's sister:
"...We believe that Kristin's cries for help to Joe's superiors in the [Utica Police Department] were not acted upon appropriately... Acts of officer-involved domestic violence should be investigated and taken very seriously. Kristin, on two separate occasions, over the summer, reported threats and acts of violence to Joe's superiors, as did another member of our family. They acknowledged the danger. They promised they would protect my beloved sister, but they let her down. As a result, my four nieces and nephews will have to live without their mother. My parents, Kristin's children, our entire family will be suffering for the rest of our lives as a result..." 

Kristin Palumbo-Longo’s brother, Joseph Palumbo:
...Kristin Longo’s family says law enforcement should be held accountable and certain changes need to be made to ensure that officers with mental issues and domestic problems are handled properly. “That’s our main objective here – to make sure there’s a procedure in place so this never happens again”...

Previous posts:

 Kristin Palumbo-Longo

KRISTIN LONGO'S FAMILY MAY SUE UTICA
Nearly four months after the brutal murder of Kristin Longo took place, her family is now considering pressing charges against the City of Utica. Jim Gibbons has more
news10now.com
By: Jim Gibbons
Updated 12/16/2009 04:39 PM
[Excerpts] As members of the Polumbo family stood before the media Tuesday, a picture of Kristin Longo was set up in front of them for all to see. On September 28th, Kristin was murdered inside her Deerfield home. The killer was her ex-husband Joseph Longo Jr., an investigator with the Utica Police Department. Joseph later turned the knife on himself. Kristin's family says Joseph had been unstable after their divorce and had made at least two threats of violence against her.  
"Kristin reported two threats and acts of violence to Joe's superiors. They acknowledged she was in danger, they promised to protect my beautiful sister, but they let her down," said Gina Pierce, Kristin's sister.  
Which is why the Polumbo family has filed an intent to make a claim against the City of Utica. They say the incident could have been avoided had the Utica Police Department taken action to protect one of its employees who showed signs of a mental breakdown.
The notice states Joseph Longo had threatened to commit suicide and had announced to his family "today is the day that I go postal." "It's clear that we're not going to have the truth about the circumstances leading to Kristin's death, or accountability, without examining people under oath, under penalty of perjury," said John Dillon, attorney for the Kristin Longo Estate.
The family also claims the city was negligent in their appointment of Police Chief Daniel LaBella... They say the chief knew of Longo's mental state, but failed to act... [Full article here]





VICTIM'S FAMILY CITES CITY'S NEGLIGENCE IN MURDER-SUICIDE
WKTV
By Joleen Ferris
Dec 16, 2009
[Excerpts] The family of Kristin Palumbo-Longo has filed a notice of claim against the city of Utica... The Palumbo family is claiming the city was negligent in preventing the tragedy; that
there were several warning signs the city ignored. According to the notice of claim, Longo had put the barrel of his service revolver in his mouth in front of his wife and the couple's nine-year old son weeks before the murder-suicide. The claim also said he had recently threatened to kill himself and his family on more than one occasion. 
This notice of claim also alleges that the city was further negligent in appointing Dan LaBella as Chief. The claim reads: "The city was further negligent in allowing an individual to circumvent the appropriate and customary appointment procedure and protocol to become Police Chief when said individual clearly lacked the requisite qualifications and skills to serve competently as Chief of Police in the City of Utica"... The city attorney says there's nothing the city, or anyone else, could have done to prevent the tragedy. "When someone has their mind set on killing a person, I don't see how our city entity could have prevented that act," said Corporation Counsel Linda Sullivan Fatata. The family intends to seek monetary damages to provide for the needs of the couple's four children. The family added that, more importantly, they seek a change in policy and procedures which would provide better mental health screenings for potential officers and more pro-active and responsible treatment of officers' mental health issue... A notice of claim is a necessary precursor to a lawsuit against a municipality. It preserves a person's right to sue at a later date. Currently, only the city of Utica is named as a defendant in the notice of claim. Gina Pearce's attorney- a former attorney for the city of Utica- says that will likely change, and individuals will probably be added. [Full article here]

LAWSUIT TO ALLEGE LABELLA FAILED TO ADDRESS INVESTIGATOR'S VIOLENT TENDENCIES
Utica Observer-Dispatch
By Rocco LaDuca
Posted Dec 16, 2009 @ 06:23 PM
[Excerpts] One day in early September, Utica police Investigator Joseph Longo Jr. put the barrel of his duty revolver in his mouth and threatened to “blow his head off” in front of his wife Kristin Longo and their 9-year-old son, according to legal documents. A frightened and tearful Kristin Longo later called the Utica Police Department to report the incident, and the officer’s weapon was taken away from him. But that wasn’t enough, according to a notice of claim filed against the city. About two weeks later, Joseph Longo stabbed his wife to death inside their Deerfield home Sept. 28 before turning the knife on himself. Now, the estate of Kristin Palumbo Longo is claiming the city failed to protect her from her husband as he showed signs of a mental breakdown.  
Specifically, the family alleges that recently appointed Utica Police Chief Daniel LaBella was not competent in addressing the problems of the investigator, who was LaBella's friend and former patrol partner. As a result of this alleged negligence, the family states, Joseph Longo’s “disturbing behavior” was allowed to escalate until the Longo couple was dead, leaving their four children – 9, 11, 15, and 17 – without a mother or father.
Kristin Longo’s sister Gina Pearce and other family members voiced these allegations for the first time Wednesday morning as they gathered at the New Hartford law office of attorney John Dillon announcing their intent to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.
“We want to know the truth about the events that led to Kristin’s murder and we want the circumstances that allowed her murder to happen to be known,” Pearce told members of the news media as she stood behind a photograph of her smiling sister. “We believe that if the people responsible for protecting our citizens had done their jobs properly, Kristin would have been protected and would still be alive today,” she added. “We believe that Kristin’s cries for help to those in a position to help her were ignored”...
According to the notice of claim, LaBella and other police officials should have known that Joseph Longo:
    * was experiencing extreme emotional and mental anguish caused by the breakup of his marriage as a result of abusive behavior.
    * recently threatened to kill himself and his family on more than one occasion, including the instance when Longo placed the barrel of his revolver in his mouth.
    * had announced to his family more than once that “today is the day that I go postal.”
    * had failed a psychiatric screening test administered by the New York State Police during an unsuccessful attempt several years ago to become a state trooper...
Dillon, who is handling the case and is also formerly Utica city government’s top attorney, took direct aim at LaBella's lack of action in the weeks and months before the murder-suicide.  
“If we had a police chief who had acted appropriately and prudently, Kristin Longo would still be here today,” Dillon said. Joseph Longo and LaBella had been partners on the force when they were both patrol officers, as well as personal friends, he said. “At the very least, it seems to indicate a conflict of interest,” regarding the possibility that LaBella might have been challenged to look past his friendship with Longo to take the proper precautions, Dillon said. As Joseph Longo later became a “clear and present danger” to himself, his family and the community, the claim further states that the city failed to provide mandatory in-patient psychological services to the officer... 
Kristin Longo’s family says law enforcement should be held accountable and certain changes need to be made to ensure that officers with mental issues and domestic problems are handled properly. “That’s our main objective here – to make sure there’s a procedure in place so this never happens again,” Kristin Longo’s brother, Joseph Palumbo, said. [Full article here]



IN DEPTH
FAMILY OF MURDER-SUICIDE VICTIM FILES CLAIM AGAINST CITY OF UTICA
Utica Daily News
Marques Phillips and Dana C. Silano
12/16/2009 11:29:00 am
[Excerpts] The family of Kristin Palumbo-Longo, who was stabbed to death in a murder-suicide by her police officer husband, has filed a notice of claim against the City of Utica, alleging it was negligent in dealing with the events leading up to her death. The family's attorney, John Dillon said the family will sue, although a venue and an amount has yet to be settled on.  
"What amount of money is going to bring back the children's parents," he asked. "The amount is going to be  astronomical--I imagine--and it  still wouldn't be enough for the suffering those kids went through."
Utica Corporation Council Linda Sullivan-Fatata, said she's confident the city wasn't negligent in this case. "It's still difficult for me to talk about because it is so fresh and it was a terrible event," she said. "This was in no way caused by the city, its officials or the police department. He committed a criminal act. He murdered someone. There's nothing the city could have done"... The assertion is that Longo did several alarming things leading up to the killings and the police department either knew or should have known about his state of mind.   
"No matter what forum or venue we choose to pursue this in, Kristen Longo would be alive if the police department would have taken the appropriate actions and followed protocol, and that makes them responsible," Dillon said. 
Among the incidents the notice cites are:
    * Longo had taken to telling his family "Today is the day I go postal" and he threatened suicide.
    * Longo pointed his gun recklessly at individuals while working at Thomas R. Proctor high school.
    * Longo frequently drove by the Deerfield house while he was on duty
Therefore, the claim asserts that the city failed to properly protect Joseph Longo, despite the fact that it knew he was demonstrating signs of a mental breakdown and showed signs that he was inclined to harm himself... 
John E. Creedon Police Benevolent Association President Tom Brady said that while the family of Palumbo-Longo has every right to make a notice of claim,  it seemed unfair to put the entire blame of a situation that was also personal on UPD. "I believe that two of them were in family court that day (of the murder-suicide) -- if there was something going on why wasn't the court involved," he asked. "There's so many angles to it that to dump it all on the Utica Police Department and chief of police isn't fair. Why wasn't that being brought up in court then?" The notice was filed on behalf of Palumbo-Longo and her four children through Gina Pearce, the administer of the estate and Palumbo-Longo's sister.  
"We believe that Kristin's cries for help to Joe's superiors in the UPD were not acted upon appropriately... Acts of officer-involved domestic violence should be investigated and taken very seriously. Kristin, on two separate occasions, over the summer, reported threats and acts of violence to Joe's superiors, as did another member of our family. They acknowledged the danger. They promised they would protect my beloved sister, but they let her down. As a result, my four nieces and nephews will have to live without their mother. My parents, Kristin's children, our entire family will be suffering for the rest of our lives as a result."
Dillon said it wasn't an isolated incident, but the result of a policy, although he didn't elaborate as to the nature of that policy. "We'd be alleging and proving that there was a policy so pervasive that it had the effect of law," he said. "Because of that policy, it would have been reasonable to see that it could have resulted in police brutality-- in this case, the violent stabbing of Kristin Palumbo-Longo"... Further,the notice of claim submits that the city and its employees were negligent and reckless in the following ways:
    * Failing to properly train its employees.
    * Failing to discipline officers that committed crimes under the color of law.
    * Failing to provide appropriate psychological services to Joseph Longo.
    * Interjecting itself into the private affairs of the couple.
    * Failing to have proper policies regarding domestic violence...
The Utica Daily News did a story in September about the mental stress involved in the job and the policies in place  before the killings.  At the time, LaBella said that there were mental and spiritual counseling services available to officers and that the Employee Assistance Program was set up to deal with issues of stress and mental health. The claim seems to imply that those policies and services were either not sufficient, or not adhered to. In the meantime, Brady said police are still trying to come to terms with the situation as much as Palumbo Longo's family is. A veteran officer at the UPD for 14 years, Brady said Longo was known for being happy-go-lucky and always smiling and joking. While he said people in the department knew there were problems, they never thought it would come to this. "Even though it's happened, I'm still in disbelief," Brady said. "It's pretty screwed up to want to take your own life, but even moreso to take someone else's. We all sit here and try to figure out why he did this; and all I can think is that all the stars were aligned and everything was happening at once: in his job, his money problems and his divorce." Dillon says otherwise, namely that the department was notified and that police had made a pledge to the woman they later found out was killed.
"Kristen had advised them of these incidents and they promised to protect her, and assured her they could,"
Dillon said. [Full article here]


LABELLA APPOINTMENT ONCE AGAIN IN SPOTLIGHT
Utica Observer-Dispatch
By Dan Miner
Posted Dec 16, 2009 @ 08:41 PM
Mayor David Roefaro’s June appointment of his childhood friend as police chief sparked citywide controversy 
and a now-failed effort to recall the mayor. And now, with a pending lawsuit against the city drawing a connection between Police Chief Daniel LaBella’s appointment and the Sept. 28 murder-suicide involving his former partner and friend, it’s clear the issue is back. The claim asserts the city’s negligence in allowing LaBella “to circumvent the appropriate and customary appointment procedure and protocol to become police chief when he clearly lacked the requisite qualifications and skills to serve competently as police chief”... LaBella did say that no police chief could have prevented the homicide that prompted the claim, which was filed Wednesday. Council President William Morehouse, a Democrat, agreed the only person to blame for the tragedy was Joseph Longo Jr... The attorney filing the claim, John Dillon, was once city Corporation Counsel under former Mayor Timothy Julian, whom Roefaro defeated in the 2007 election... After repeatedly saying he had no desire to be chief, LaBella took a county civil service test March 10, three days after it was actually offered, because he was sick. Capt. John Toomey, who scored higher on that test, was passed over because he didn’t live in Utica. LaBella later called the illness a “blessing in disguise” because if he had taken the exam March 7 with others present, it might have prompted speculation about his intentions. The doctor’s note that allowed LaBella to take the test later was signed by a Utica cardiologist, Fred Talarico, who had a history of campaign contributions to local Democrats. ***LaBella also was chosen over the two perceived front-runners — deputy chiefs Mark Williams and Michael Bailey. Both scored higher on their civil service exam than LaBella... [Full article here]
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