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Three Peabody police officers accused of using excessive force will face a federal trial in October

PEABODY — Three police officers accused of beating a 16-year-old boy will face a federal jury in October.

Tyler Leger-Broskey filed suit in 2018 following an incident at McDonald’s on Main Street four years ago. 

The North Reading resident alleged officers arrested him at the restaurant, and when he exercised his right to remain silent beat him so severely he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

As a result of the bruises, Leger-Broskey, now 19, continues to suffer from seizures, according to Debra Loevy, the teen’s lawyer from Loevy & Loevy, a Chicago law firm with an office in Natick. The firm specializes in civil rights and police misconduct cases

In addition, the lawsuit said police conspired to cover up their actions by falsely claiming Leger-Broskey was disorderly, resisted arrest, and assaulted a police officer. 

He is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. The other youth, who is not named in the suit, did not file a complaint.

Named in the civil action are Sgt. James Harkins, Officers David P. McGovern, Antonio Santos, Scott Paszkowski, and Robert Waugh. 

The officers have denied the claims. 

Judge William G. Young dismissed the allegations against Waugh and Paszkowski. The three remaining officers are charged with using excessive force and failure to intervene, a measure that requires officers to protect suspects from another officer’s use of excessive force.

Court documents say Ledger-Broskey and a friend went to McDonald’s on March 28, 2015. While in the restaurant, the boys were unaware an employee called police to complain they were smoking marijuana in the bathroom. 

The teens left before officers arrived. As they walked down the street, Officers McGovern and Santos stopped and questioned them. 

Without any justification, the complaint said, McGovern and/or Santos threw Ledger-Broskey against a wall. His attorneys said he had done nothing wrong and answered all of the officers questions, and showed police his driver’s license. 

The boys were released and returned to McDonald’s to clean food that had spilled on their clothing during the incident. They insisted police never told them they were not welcome back at the eatery.

After the pair got cleaned up and prepared to leave the restaurant, McGovern arrived and prevented the boys from leaving as they held up their phones to videotape the confrontation, court documents said. When Ledger-Broskey refused to answer McGovern’s questions, he was placed under arrest for trespassing.  

The boy said he was tackled and pushed into the bathroom, where he was repeatedly struck while being held down on the floor, according to court documents. 

While Ledger-Broskey posed no risk, McGovern sprayed the boy with pepper spray, the complaint said. In addition, the boy said he never tried to strike the officers.

In a deposition, McGovern denied he or any officer assaulted the teenager. He testified they were told not to return to the restaurant, and told them they were trespassing and being placed under arrest. 

McGovern said Ledger-Broskey, who he described as the aggressor, resisted arrest and the two of them wound up on the bathroom floor, when Santos and the others arrived.

Peabody Police Chief Thomas M. Griffin said he could not comment on the case.

Through his attorney,  Leger-Broskey, declined to comment.

The trial is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Boston on October 7.

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