Victim's family cites city's negligence in murder-suicide


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The family of Kristin Palumbo-Longo has filed a notice of claim against the City of Utica.

Palumbo-Longo was stabbed to death by her husband, Utica Police Officer Joseph Longo, in September in the estranged couple's Deerfield home. Longo then turned the knife on himself.

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."

"I will not discuss this unfortunate tragedy for the sake of the Longo children, the Palumbo family as well as the Longo family. No matter who the chief of police was, this was an unfortunate tragedy and unfortunately this is in the litigation stage now and we do not have the luxury of responding to allegations brought forth by the plaintiff," said Chief LaBella in response.

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 issues.

Right now, the couple's 17-year-old son is staying with his uncle-his mother's brother- in California. The couple's three younger children are staying with Kristin Palumbo-Longo's sister and her husband. Pearce said the children are doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

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.

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