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Woman suing LP police is charged with DWI

March 2, 2013

LAKE PLACID - The woman who is suing two Lake Placid Police Department officers for allegedly assaulting her in January 2012 was hit with drunken driving and marijuana charges over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Taryn Stanfa's federal claim against patrolmen James Staats and Matthew Braunius has been transferred from Jefferson County to Essex County.

Ray Brook-based state police charged Stanfa, 21, of Watertown, with driving while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent, both misdemeanors, and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation, at 3:02 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23.

Lake Placid lawyer Matt Norfolk, who is representing Stanfa in her civil suit against Staats and Braunius, said he hasn't been retained to represent Stanfa on the drunken driving charges.

"This won't have any impact on her case against LP Village," Norfolk said in an email.

Police said a trooper clocked Stanfa driving 48 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone and traveling left of the center line on Lake Flower Avenue in the village of Saranac Lake early Saturday morning. After pulling her over, the trooper allegedly smelled odors of alcohol and marijuana emanating from the vehicle.

Stanfa was asked to exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests, which she failed, police said. The trooper also allegedly found a multi-colored glass smoking device in the vehicle and secured it as evidence.

Police said Stanfa was taken to the state police barracks in Ray Brook for processing, where she was administered a chemical test that showed a blood alcohol content of 0.11 percent.

Stanfa was arrested and processed without incident, police said. In the meantime, Stanfa's civil case against the Lake Placid police officers will now be heard in Essex County Supreme Court, Norfolk said Friday. A judge hasn't been assigned to the case yet.

In her civil complaint, filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York last fall, Stanfa alleges that Staats unlawfully interrogated her and searched her vehicle the morning of Jan. 21, 2012, at the Hannaford supermarket parking lot. Stanfa claims that Staats then grabbed her, pushed her to the ground, struck her in the back with his knee, and handcuffed her.

A police complaint states that Stanfa and her passenger were "highly intoxicated and incoherent" when police arrived at the scene. It notes that no charges were filed and no arrests were made.

At the time of the incident, Stanfa was allegedly in possession of a glass smoking device and a can of pepper spray, both of which were confiscated and destroyed with Stanfa's consent, according to the police report.

Stanfa is seeking $1 million in damages in her suit. The village of Lake Placid and police Chief Bill Moore have declined to comment on the matter because it's pending litigation.

Norfolk said the village made a motion to change the case's venue from Jefferson County to Essex County, and to dismiss some of the causes of action in the suit.

"Oral argument was heard (Thursday) in Jefferson County Supreme Court before Judge (James) McClusky," he said. "Judge McClusky transferred the case to Essex County, but declined to decide the defendants' motion to dismiss, leaving it to the new judge to be assigned in Essex County.

"Once the case is transferred to Essex County, the pending motion to dismiss will need to be decided, but regardless the case is moving forward because the defendants did not move to have all of the claims dismissed."



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