An internal police investigation has exonerated Lt. Laurel Sheehan of brutality allegations made by a 14th Street woman who has filed a $36 million suit against the city.
Barbara Capton, 58, alleges she suffered a head injury Aug. 17 when she was brutalized by Lt. Sheehan while being arrested after police said she interfered with the investigation of a burglary she had reported in her neighborhood.
Mrs. Capton said she had to undergo brain surgery as a result.
Police Superintendent Thomas C. Zwelling said Tuesday "a lengthy and comprehensive investigation conducted by this agency's Internal Affairs Unit surrounding the allegations of police misconduct" shows Mrs. Capton's allegations to be unfounded.
"The investigation included interviews and statements from all known witnesses in regards to this matter," and no evidence could be found to support Mrs. Capton's allegations, Zwelling said.
He said no Police Department policies or state penal laws were violated.
"The complete investigation was reviewed by the Niagara County district attorney's office which concurs," with the findings, Zwelling said.
Mrs. Capton, meanwhile, has pleaded innocent and is scheduled to go on trial in May on a charge of obstructing governmental administration.
Police said she impeded the investigation by followed officers looking for the burglar and refusing to leave the area, potentially placing herself and officers in danger.
In her lawsuit, Mrs. Capton alleges Lt. Sheehan choked her and pushed her while she was in police custody.
Mrs. Capton said she immediately felt a popping sensation in her head and asked for medical attention but was forced into a jail cell in a semiconscious condition.
Mrs. Capton's suit specifically names Lt. Sheehan, Zwelling and the city.
An attorney with the city corporation counsel's office said the police investigators reviewed all available evidence in arriving at their conclusion.
The only evidence not considered would be any material withheld from police by Mrs. Capton's legal advisers, he added.