PORTLAND — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from a Yarmouth resident against the Yarmouth Police Department stemming from a 2018 incident where the resident alleged he was improperly arrested on a domestic violence charge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III issued his decision Monday in U.S. District Court to grant the town’s motion of summary judgment, ruling that the plaintiff, Selcuk Karamanoglu, did not have a case against the town.

“The court essentially confirmed what we knew all along,” said attorney Kasia S. Park, of the Portland law firm Drummond Woodsum, which represented the town of Yarmouth, former Yarmouth Police Chief Michael Morrill and Yarmouth Police Officer Brian Andreasen, all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The case revolves around whether Andreasen had legal cause to arrest Karamanoglu following an incident on June 15, 2018, between Karamanoglu and a woman he had a relationship with. While the woman is named in court documents, The Forecaster is not publishing her name as she alleged she was a victim of domestic violence. According to Rich’s decision, facts neither side dispute indicate the woman said she confronted Karamanoglu with accusations he was cheating, which led to a fight, during which Karamanoglu forced her out of his 90 Cornfield Point home.

According to court records, while Karamanoglu admitted to getting physical, he said he was only defending himself against an unwelcome person, and noted he was never prosecuted for the domestic violence charge. Karamanoglu also noted, and the woman admits in court records, that she was “more aggressive” and struck him several times during the incident.

The town argued that Officer Andreasen believed Karamanoglu went too far, grabbing the woman by the neck and pushing her down a flight of stairs. This week, Park stood by the town’s argument.

“The amount of force he used was unreasonable,” she said.

Rich noted that Andreasen saw evidence that night of injuries to the woman’s neck and ribs, enough to lead any person to conclude that Karamanoglu’s conduct might have been excessive, which gave Andreasen probable cause to make the arrest.

“At the least, as an objective matter, this called into question whether the plaintiff had used a ‘reasonable’ degree of force in self-defense,” Rich wrote.

Karamanoglu’s attorney, Tyler J. Smith, with the Kennebunk firm Libby O’Brien Kingsley & Champion, called allegations that Karamanoglu grabbed the woman by her neck “a red herring.” Karamanoglu, Smith said, denies ever grabbing her neck, and there was no indication in the domestic violence charges of that.

“Had (Andreasen) believed that Mr. Karamanoglu grabbed (the woman) by the neck, he would have charged him with strangulation,” Smith said.

It’s also not legally clear whether Karamanoglu even had the right to remove the woman from his home, and was therefore entitled to use any force at all. Rich’s decision notes that no one disputes Karamanoglu had a relationship with the woman, that the woman spent weekends at Karamanoglu’s home, and even her driver’s license and car registration at the time listed 90 Cornfield Point as her residence.

“The facts known to Andreasen at the time of the plaintiff’s arrest, even viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff for purposes of summary judgment, paint a gray, rather than black-and-white, picture of whether the plaintiff had viable self-defense or defense of premises justifications for the use of force for which he was arrested,” Rich wrote.

Smith noted that Andreasen’s own report from that night describes the woman as a “nonresident” of Yarmouth, and lists an Auburn address for her.

“A jury could easily conclude from the evidence that Officer Andreasen never actually viewed (the woman) as a resident of the home,” Smith said.

Karamanoglu’s attorneys filed an appeal to the judge’s decision on Monday. Smith said the next steps and timeline will be established at a later date by the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We’re confident that the court of appeals will find that an officer cannot ignore when a person was acting in self-defense,” Smith said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

Email: [email protected]

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