Southampton settles wrongful-death suit

A mug shot of Tony Curtis Bradway. A mug shot of Tony Curtis Bradway. Photo Credit: Handout

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The Town of Southampton has quietly settled a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the mother of a Brooklyn man who died when town police allegedly delayed taking him to a hospital after he swallowed several grams of cocaine during a 2008 enforcement action.

The case, which was to be settled this week with payment of an undisclosed amount by the town, according to court records, comes to a close just as the Suffolk district attorney launched a probe of the Southampton town police's record-keeping and other practices.

One of the defendants in the wrongful-death case, then-police Sgt. James Kiernan, last week received a 38-day suspension by the town board in an unspecified disciplinary action. There is no indication the two matters are related.

A Suffolk district attorney spokesman declined to comment on whether allegations in the lawsuit were related in any way to the DA's probe. Southampton Town supervisor Anna Throne-Holst didn't return a call seeking comment.

The man who died, Tony Bradway, 26, was arrested during a raid by the street crimes unit on June 9, 2008. Police tasered Bradway, according to court records, in an attempt to prevent him from eating the cocaine.

In the federal court case that followed, lawyers for Bradway's mother, Tina, argued police were negligent in failing to bring Tony Bradway to the hospital immediately after discovering he had swallowed up to five grams of cocaine. An hour and a half passed from the time of his arrest at a Southampton house, including the time he spent at police headquarters in Hampton Bays, to when he was brought to Peconic Bay Medical Center, they said.

The lawyers also alleged that Kiernan directed police to bring Bradway to headquarters rather than the hospital "even after learning Mr. Bradway had ingested cocaine." A call to Kiernan's home wasn't returned.

Southampton Town police Chief William Wilson, noting that the Bradway case predated his tenure, said he had ordered a review of police rules and procedures since taking office, and among the changes was getting medical clearance for people taken into custody.

"We have taken steps to make sure any and all people who come into police custody have received adequate medical attention and medical clearance before we lodge them," he said.

Wilson also has disbanded the street crimes unit. He declined to comment on the Suffolk probe except to say his office "will cooperate with any DA inquiry."

In arguing for dismissal of the case, lawyers for the town said Bradway "repeatedly told the arresting officers that he felt fine and that he did not want to go to the hospital." They also argued that police "cannot be charged with knowing the exact amount, if any, of cocaine that Bradway ingested shortly before his arrest."

Federal District Court Judge Joseph Bianco in December denied the town's motion to dismiss the case, concluding, "The delay in obtaining medical care for Mr. Bradway was a substantial contributing factor leading to his death."

In February, attorneys for the town and Bradway's mother reported reaching a settlement, and the town board authorized it on Feb. 14, records show.

A check for an undisclosed amount from the town was to be paid to Bradway's mother on Wednesday, court records show. Thomas Telesca, a lawyer for Tina Bradway at the Uniondale firm Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, said he "wasn't at liberty to discuss the case," and declined to specify the amount.

Bradway's death was widely reported because of its apparent connection to police use of the Taser. An autopsy by the Suffolk medical examiner found the cause of death was "seizures and multiple systems failure due to acute cocaine intoxication." It found no evidence "the use of the Taser played a factor."

With Sandra Peddie

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