Putnam County, sheriff, hit with $50 million brutality lawsuit

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CARMEL – Just days after sending their reform report to the governor, Putnam County, its sheriff, and several of his employees have been served with a $50 million lawsuit alleging police brutality at the hands of the sheriff’s office (PCSO).  The alleged beating left a senior citizen on life support for days.

George Taranto, 75, and his wife Karen have hired Poughkeepsie attorney Thomas Gambino to bring the federal lawsuit over an incident that occurred on July 8, 2019, at about 2 a.m. in Brewster.

George Taranto following brain surgery

According to Gambino, Mr. Taranto was “physically attacked, assaulted, and brutalized by PCSO Deputies Ronald Yeager, Ryan Diskin, Vincent Dalo, and Investigator Daniel Hunsberger, under the supervision of Sergeant William Quick.”

Gambino said his client heard a noise outside of his condominium that night and saw flashlights by his window.  Taranto armed himself with his legally possessed firearm in its holster and went outside to investigate the commotion.  When the deputies, who were shining the flashlights saw Taranto, they ordered him to remove the weapon from the holster, drop it to the ground, and raise his arms above his head.  According to the court documents, he complied.  After doing so, Taranto says that the deputies threw him to the ground, and beat him about the face, head, and body with closed fists, causing serious injury.  He was then handcuffed and placed in a patrol car while being refused medical assistance.

According to the plaintiff’s family, the sheriff’s office employees placed a criminal summons with a charge of menacing in Taranto’s pocket and delivered him to the Putnam Hospital Center.  Hours later, a hospital employee called the family to say that Taranto was in their care.

Gambino said that the nurse told family members that the attack resulted in the 75-year-old man being placed on life support after suffering cardiac and respiratory failure and pulmonary edema.  He remained on life support and unconscious for several days and was transported to Danbury Hospital in critical condition.

In September of 2019, Taranto was recovering at home when he awoke to find out he couldn’t walk.  He was taken to Danbury Hospital where a CT scan revealed brain bleeds as a result of the attack.  The following day he underwent surgery that required holes to be drilled in his skull to reduce the pressure.

The following defendants were served with the US District Court Summons and Complaint on April 1, 2021:

  • Putnam County
  • Putnam County Sheriff’s Office
  • Putnam County Sheriff Robert L. Langley Jr.
  • Deputy Sheriff Ronald Yeager
  • PCSO Investigator Daniel Hunsberger
  • Deputy Sheriff Ryan Diskin
  • Deputy Sheriff Vincent Dalo
  • PCSO Sergeant William Quick