BANGOR — Two Augusta police officers denied Wednesday using excessive force in the arrest of Michael J. Albert Sr. at an Augusta shelter for homeless veterans on Aug. 4, 2012.

The testimony of Augusta Patrol Officer Benjamin Murtiff and Sgt. Vicente Morris came on the second day of a civil trial in federal court.

Albert, now 50 and living in Bangor, sued Augusta police, maintaining his civil rights were violated as police handcuffed him after he allegedly refused multiple requests to leave the shelter that night.

Albert testified Tuesday that his left rotator cuff was torn during the arrest and he suffered pain prior to having surgery in July 2014 to repair the tear.

Murtiff and Morris are the only remaining defendants in the federal civil lawsuit which had initially included the police chief and other unnamed officers.

Murtiff and Morris said they used techniques taught at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in taking Albert to the ground and then handcuffing him and that they observed no injuries on Albert when Murtiff drove him to the jail almost immediately afterward.

Both officers said Albert got up abruptly from a picnic table outside the veterans shelter and moved toward the shelter manager, Christian Carson, who was telling Albert he had to leave the premises after he had shouted at another resident.

“If he would have left when we asked him to leave the first or second time, we would have allowed him to leave and go about his business for the rest of the night,” Murtiff testified.

Morris testified that Albert’s response to being told to leave was to argue and that Morris was concerned Carson would be assaulted.

Albert testified Tuesday that he had indicated he would leave and got up slowly from the picnic table and took a step away from Carson and Murtiff, but that police then grabbed first his right arm and took him to the ground.

“When they walked me around, I didn’t expect they were going to throw me down,” Albert said.

He said his left arm was lifted and pulled behind him while he was on the ground under the weight of several officers. Albert is asking for compensation for $23,350 in medical bills, $25,000 for loss of enjoyment of life and $175,000 for general pain and suffering, according to court documents filed by his attorney Stephen Packard.

Albert is not seeking lost wages. He testified he had been receiving Social Security disability since 2006 and worked occasionally as a trucker.

A criminal trespass charge against Albert was dismissed Oct. 9, 2012, by the district attorney’s office on the basis that Murtiff was unavailable as a witness because he was in training.

On Wednesday morning, a witness read into the record sworn testimony of Dr. Jacob Brooks, who performed surgery to correct the rotator cuff tear in July 2014. Brooks said that Albert had recovered well.

Testimony ended at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, and Nivison told jurors that the defense had one witness scheduled to testify Thursday morning, and that he expected to go to closing arguments after that.


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