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Posted: 1/9/2006 5:41:25 AM EDT
Woman sues police for bullet wounds

Bullets paralyze driver; attorney says cops used excessive force

PUBLISHED: January 6, 2006

By Jameson Cook
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

A woman who was left a paraplegic after being shot several times by Warren police in the moments following a high-speed car chase has accused officers of using excessive force in a lawsuit filed in Macomb County Circuit Court.

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Carmen Mattera recently sued the city of Warren and police officers Paul Houtos, Kenneth Marsee, Richard James Schnur and Greg Booten for the Jan. 4, 2003, shooting incident on Interstate 696 near the Oakland-Macomb counties border. She claims violations of her constitutional right to due process, equal protection, and to enjoy life and liberty.

"Why did they fill her car with bullets?" her attorney, Ira Saperstein, told The Macomb Daily. "Why were they shooting at her 30 or 40 times? They have her car surrounded. She can't go anywhere.

"The police instigated this attack on her. This case will be about what constitutes excessive force."

Warren Police Chief Danny Clark declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Mattera, 45, a Warren native who had been living in Roseville, was charged with two counts of attempted murder, fleeing police and assault with a dangerous weapon, among other offenses. She was found "not guilty by reason of insanity" about 10 months later following a 1-day bench trial in front of Macomb County Circuit Judge Donald Miller.

"Ms. Mattera was substantially incapable of appreciating the nature, quality and wrongfulness of her actions as well as conforming her behavior to the requirements of the law," George Watson, a forensic psychologist for the state Center for Forensic Psychiatry, says in a report, according to court records. Watson says Mattera, who graduated from Warren Mott High School in 1978 and had attended Oakland Community College, had an average level of intellectual ability.

Avoiding jail or prison time, she currently is living in an adult foster care facility "on the west side of the state," Saperstein said.

"She's disabled for life; she's still a young woman," Saperstein said.

The incident began as a family dispute regarding her parents that went from her to her brother's residence on Martin Road in Roseville. Her brother, nine years older than her, called police, saying that his sister had pointed a gun at him and had fled in a Chevy Malibu. Mattera refused to stop for police on Gratiot Avenue, speeding away at speeds up to 110 mph first on westbound I-696 then on eastbound I-696, where Madison Heights police used "stop sticks" to puncture the tires of her car and caused it to crash into a freeway wall.

Officers Houtos and Marsee said they fired their guns in response to seeing smoke or a fire flash coming from the end of the barrel of the .38-caliber handgun being held by Mattera in the car. Schnur testified in a 37th District Court hearing that he approached the vehicle to find a bleeding Mattera lying across the front seat with a revolver in her hand.

"She turned her head in my direction and raised the gun directly at me," Schnur testified. He yelled to fellow officers that she had a gun, and he fired "three or four" rounds in her direction as he retreated.

More than 400 rounds of ammunition for her handgun were found in her car. Mattera told the psychologist that she had kept all of her belongings in her car because she had been transient.

Saperstein said that he can show that Mattera did not fire her gun first, and even if she did, the police officers' response was excessive.

"They say she fired one time, which I'm going to show was impossible," he said.

He argued that even though Mattera's brother told police his sister was armed, police "didn't know she had a gun."

Mattera's brother also had told police over the telephone that his sister was bipolar.

Saperstein admitted that his client "should have stopped" for police, but didn't deserve the fate of becoming a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.

After her car's tires blew and the car crashed into the concrete wall, Mattera "was scared out of her mind," Saperstein said.

An investigation by Michigan State Police and then-Macomb County prosecutor Carl Marlinga found no wrongdoing by the officers. Marlinga in 2003 said the officers acted courageously while "staring death in the face."

Mattera had been diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic about three years before the incident at a psychiatric facility in Nashville, Tenn. After that, she lived in Florida with her parents for a time and had been receiving treatment at a psychiatric center. She had been living in Michigan about one year and was receiving outpatient treatment. She had been homeless or living with an aunt in Roseville in that year. She had been on medication for her mental problems in recent years.

Following the incident, Mattera spent 10 months under police guard in William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where an arm was amputated below the elbow, then spent up to 60 days in a state psychiatric center.

In her interview with Watson, Mattera says the incident began when her family "roughhoused" her regarding her seeking money from her parents. She says she then saw police officers at her brother's house.

"There were at least 40 or 50 of them," she says. "I did not know they were there for me. There were so many, why would there be? Then I realized and I got scared and I ran."

She says that after her vehicle crashed on I-696, "I stayed in the vehicle and saw them draw their weapons. I got down in the seat of the car because they drew their weapons. They opened fire and I saw the bullets going in and out of the car. I was hit with quite a few of them. I brought out my pistol and I fired in the air and fired wide, not to hit anybody. I saw that it was doing no good, so I quit doing it. They brought out a shotgun and shot my arm off. That was it. It was over."

In the lawsuit, Mattera accuses police of "oppression and malice" with "reckless indifference and disregard for the plaintiff's physical welfare, safety, life and liberty."

She says police conspired to cover up police misconduct, and the officers intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her and their actions "went beyond the bounds of decency."

She says the city of Warren exhibited "deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of persons in Warren" by failing to provide proper police response and or stop police from using excessive force.

The case was assigned to Judge Diane Druzinski.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 5:51:27 AM EDT



how is this news?


Link Posted: 1/9/2006 5:52:32 AM EDT
These cases are crazy. Even though she starts the entire incident and admits late in the article that she fired a weapon with the police there, she thinks she's been wronged because she didn't get a happy result. She's nuts and so is her lawyer. She's got a customer service complaint at best.

R.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 5:57:07 AM EDT
She had a gun, she was shooting. End of story.

Ridiculous waste of court time. The plaintiff lawyer should be sanctioned until his nuts fall off.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:02:05 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/9/2006 6:02:41 AM EDT by Zatu]
What a bitch.

I say she deserved to get shot, even if you ignore the fact that she was mentally unstable and in possesion of a gun and driving 110 miles per hour in a high speed chase...she deserved to be shot just for trying to blame it on the cops and seek retribution for her own stupidity.

Has she ever heard of consequences?
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:02:41 AM EDT
Warren cops are real JBTs but in this case, this woman was just nuts.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:04:24 AM EDT
That whole story is a bunch of kooky talk. Although the part about getting her arm blown off with a shotgun was alright. She's just mad because everyone at the group home calls her "Lefty".
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:07:05 AM EDT
she willfully pointed a firearm at LEOs.
end of story
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:07:59 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ARDOC:
She had a gun, she was shooting. End of story.

Ridiculous waste of court time. The plaintiff lawyer should be sanctioned until his nuts fall off.



Quote for great justice. I was feeling somewhat bad for her till I read "the plaintiff had a revolver and was pointing it at police, who saw a flash from the revolver"

Shoot at the cops? Get shot in return? That's what happens.

If the police aren't exonerated, there should be rioting.

Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:09:28 AM EDT
Damn evil bullets!
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:11:28 AM EDT
Guys, it's a police use of force. There will ALWAYS be a lawsuit. Sometimes several. No matter what the specifics, that's just the way it is.

It's simply lawyers buying lottery tickets.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:14:11 AM EDT
What will happen is that they will settle for a paltry sum and the lawyer gets 1/3 of the take. It wont be worth the court and legal costs to defend this case. They will pay something so they will just go away. The plantiffs attorney knows this is a shit case and will settle.

Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:22:55 AM EDT
Why isn't she dead? If she pointed & fired at the cops, why didn't the put her down?
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:36:01 AM EDT
How could she be alive after police fired 30-40 times at a parked car?.........The judge in this case should force the officers involved to requalify on the range.......and that is all.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:38:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/9/2006 6:41:45 AM EDT by John_Wayne777]

Originally Posted By fight4yourrights:
"Why did they fill her car with bullets?" her attorney, Ira Saperstein, told The Macomb Daily. "Why were they shooting at her 30 or 40 times? They have her car surrounded. She can't go anywhere.



Well gee, Mr. Attorney, while I have seen some fat cops, I have yet to see officers who are able to stop a vehicle with their bodies. Or who are able to stop bullets with their bodies.




"Ms. Mattera was substantially incapable of appreciating the nature, quality and wrongfulness of her actions as well as conforming her behavior to the requirements of the law," George Watson, a forensic psychologist for the state Center for Forensic Psychiatry, says in a report, according to court records. Watson says Mattera, who graduated from Warren Mott High School in 1978 and had attended Oakland Community College, had an average level of intellectual ability.



Someone can be crazy as the day is long....and still be a lethal threat. The law does not require you to let a crazy person kill you. Nobody wants to shoot anyone, especially not a mentally derranged person, but the fact remains that a crazy person who has no idea what they are doing can still kill you, and you still have the right to defend yourself against their attack.



Officers Houtos and Marsee said they fired their guns in response to seeing smoke or a fire flash coming from the end of the barrel of the .38-caliber handgun being held by Mattera in the car. Schnur testified in a 37th District Court hearing that he approached the vehicle to find a bleeding Mattera lying across the front seat with a revolver in her hand.

"She turned her head in my direction and raised the gun directly at me," Schnur testified. He yelled to fellow officers that she had a gun, and he fired "three or four" rounds in her direction as he retreated.

More than 400 rounds of ammunition for her handgun were found in her car. Mattera told the psychologist that she had kept all of her belongings in her car because she had been transient.

Saperstein said that he can show that Mattera did not fire her gun first, and even if she did, the police officers' response was excessive.



So she fired her gun, but not first, and in any case the officers shooting a GUN WIELDING PERSON THEY HAD CHASED AT 110 MPH AND HAD A REPORT OF VIOLENT BEHAVIOR FROM was "excessive"???



"They say she fired one time, which I'm going to show was impossible," he said.

He argued that even though Mattera's brother told police his sister was armed, police "didn't know she had a gun."



Except, perhaps, that she pointed the gun at them. I don't know about you, Mr. Attorney, but where I come from that is one of the ways we figure out that she has a gun.




Mattera's brother also had told police over the telephone that his sister was bipolar.

Saperstein admitted that his client "should have stopped" for police, but didn't deserve the fate of becoming a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.



"deserve" has nothing to do with it, you hack-assed lawyer! The central question is at the time the officers pulled the trigger, did they have reasonable cause to fear for their lives? A crazy lady with a .38 seems to scream reasonable cause to me.

But by all means, lets not examine the central question here! Let's parade this woman around and try to generate sympathy for her condition rather than deal with the actual causes for the shooting.



Mattera had been diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic about three years before the incident at a psychiatric facility in Nashville, Tenn. After that, she lived in Florida with her parents for a time and had been receiving treatment at a psychiatric center. She had been living in Michigan about one year and was receiving outpatient treatment. She had been homeless or living with an aunt in Roseville in
that year. She had been on medication for her mental problems in recent years.



So wait....we have a lady here whom everyone says is crazy, everyone admits was in posession of a .38 caliber revolver, and yet we are supposed to be convinced that she never pulled the gun? How? Because she says she never pulled the gun? She is freaking insane. What the heck could she possibly remember in a rational way??

OH WAIT!!! SHE DID PULL THE GUN, but not first, and only fired randomly. And because she is mentally ill and unable to rationally understand what she was doing at the time, obviously she ought to be 100% reliable in her recollection of the events, right???

Holy crap! How can they even let this go forward? The woman is insane. The defense ought to motion to completely exclude her testimony as a court of law found her insane. Thus her recollections of events cannot be relied upon.



She says she then saw police officers at her brother's house.

"There were at least 40 or 50 of them," she says. "I did not know they were there for me. There were so many, why would there be? Then I realized and I got scared and I ran."



So she says she saw 40 or 50 officers.

I doubt that.

Perhaps her paranoia was acting up??




She says that after her vehicle crashed on I-696, "I stayed in the vehicle and saw them draw their weapons. I got down in the seat of the car because they drew their weapons. They opened fire and I saw the bullets going in and out of the car. I was hit with quite a few of them. I brought out my pistol and I fired in the air and fired wide, not to hit anybody. I saw that it was doing no good, so I quit doing it. They brought out a shotgun and shot my arm off. That was it. It was over."



Okay. So irrational crazy woman who has no appreciation of her actions is now to be believed when she gives an account of the police shooting at her first???




In the lawsuit, Mattera accuses police of "oppression and malice" with "reckless indifference and disregard for the plaintiff's physical welfare, safety, life and liberty."



When officers are faced with a lunatic firing a gun at them, they have very little concern for the safety of the threat. That is as it should be.



She says police conspired to cover up police misconduct, and the officers intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her and their actions "went beyond the bounds of decency."

She says the city of Warren exhibited "deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of persons in Warren" by failing to provide proper police response and or stop police from using excessive force.

The case was assigned to Judge Diane Druzinski.



Lets just consider again the facts that are incontravertable:

Cops are called because crazy lady supposedly pointed a gun at her brother.
Cops arrive.
Lady gets in car and speeds off.
Police give chase.
Police stop her 110MPH rampage with stopsticks.
Lady, supposedly crazy and unable to appreciate what she is doing while being chased, crashes.
Police approach in standard felony stop procedure. (i.e. weapons drawn)
Crazy lady pulls a .38 and starts shooting.

The judge ought to throw this out of court, and then beat the lady and her jackass lawyer with a stick.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 6:38:58 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:
Guys, it's a police use of force. There will ALWAYS be a lawsuit. Sometimes several. No matter what the specifics, that's just the way it is.

It's simply lawyers buying lottery tickets.



Exactly. If they had killed her her family would sue for wrongfull death.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 7:16:53 AM EDT

Originally Posted By skebe:
Why isn't she dead? If she pointed & fired at the cops, why didn't the put her down?



they were probably using 9mm's instead of .45's.

Link Posted: 1/9/2006 8:54:52 AM EDT
I'll be damned, I went through the academy with Marsee. He's about the furthest from being a JBT you could ever imagine.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 3:56:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NAM:

Originally Posted By skebe:
Why isn't she dead? If she pointed & fired at the cops, why didn't the put her down?



they were probably using 9mm's instead of .45's.




The cops saved the .45s for the tanks and enemy aircraft at 15,000 feet.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 4:21:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Jasba:
How could she be alive after police fired 30-40 times at a parked car....



Because autoglass and body panels play hell with handgun bullets, stripping off the jackets, fragmenting the core and resulting in lightweight low mass projectiles that dont penetrate deep or straight.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 4:33:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By metroplex:
Warren cops are real JBTs but in this case, this woman was just nuts.



They are certainly asses but this was a clean shoot. Like the bipolar schitzo actually remembers the sequence of just that one scene. Bitch is mad cause momma and daddy ain't paying her way thru life anymore after having enough of her behavior and just wants another titty to suck on.
Link Posted: 1/9/2006 4:35:34 PM EDT
Question:

"Why did they fill her car with bullets?"

Answer:

Mattera, 45, a Warren native who had been living in Roseville, was charged with two counts of attempted murder, fleeing police and assault with a dangerous weapon, among other offenses.
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