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Lawsuit against city, UPD and police chief dismissed

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - Federal civil rights claims brought against the City of Utica, Police Chief Mark Williams and other Utica Police officers as part of an incident in 2011  were dismissed Wednesday in a 13-page decision by U.S. District Judge David Hurd.

The lawsuit was brought by Ricky Woods and Sylvester Peterson, which alleged First and Fourth Amendment violations for an incident that happened at the Uptown Theater on Sept. 23-24, 2011.

According to the lawsuit, Utica police received a 911 phone call saying two black men armed with rifles had entered the Uptown Theater. The police responded by sweeping the theater, briefly detaining those who met the description, conducting limited-searches and releasing the detainees within minutes.

The court ruled that the defendants did not intend to deter the plaintiffs from exercising their First Amendment rights but were primarily motivated by responding to the 911 call. The court also ruled there was no plausible Fourth Amendment violation, because police officers had reasonable grounds to conduct a brief detention and search.

The court granted qualified immunity to all of the defendants and dismissed the $4 million lawsuit, saying the plaintiffs failed to show a plausible First or Fourth Amendment violation.

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