Two men hauled out of a town building by Lancaster police after trying to videotape a public forum -- called by Police Chief Thomas E. Fowler to refute claims he is tyrannical and vindictive -- have taken the first step towards filing suit against the town.
Henry R. Gull and James L. Guenther said their attorney filed notices of claims for each of them against the town Tuesday, alleging assault, battery, false arrest, unlawful imprisonment and violation of federal civil rights.
They are being represented by David G. Jay of Buffalo, a civil rights attorney.
Next, the men said, they intend to litigate.
"We're suing the town," said Gull. "They (the police) were gripping and hurting me. They dragged Jim out on his knees. You bet they were violating our rights. Someone has to stop these guys."
The notice of claims are for personal injuries and damages. It does not specify the amount for damages being sought.
Fowler could not be reached to comment. Supervisor Robert H. Giza did not return calls from The Buffalo News.
Gull, 67, and Guenther, 68, have been outspoken critics of Fowler. Their confrontation with police occurred when Gull tried to videotape Fowler's Aug. 31 public forum at the town court building.
Fowler, who had banned non-media cameras, warned Gull of the edict. Gull did not comply.
When police, acting on orders from Fowler, tried to take the camera, Gull and Guenther latched on and ended up being dragged out with it.
Police said the men were not arrested and that after their removal returned to the session without the camera.
Fowler says the incident would not have occurred if Gull and Guenther had either complied with his order or released the camera to police. He has also said his decision to bar cameras did not violate state laws governing open meetings.