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SETTLEMENT SEALED IN POLICE BATTERY CLAIM

Michael P. Wolf's lawsuit against the city has been settled out of court, but what, if anything, he got for his claim that a Lockport police officer knocked out some of his teeth remains unclear.

"I can't really say. That's part of the agreement," said Edward A. Zebulske III, Wolf's lawyer.

"It's sealed. It's over," said Joseph J. Schoellkopf Jr., the attorney for the city.

State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III sealed the settlement Nov. 1, a court official said.

Officer N. Paul Bruning, a defendant in the case, and city officials learned of the settlement from a reporter.

One city official who asked not to be identified said no record shows that the city paid anything in the case other than a $5,000 deductible on its liability insurance policy.

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said the deductible had been used for legal fees on the case, filed in June 1999.

Wolf, 31, could not be reached to comment.

Wolf, who was then living on Genesee Street, was arrested March 20, 1998, when Lockport police tried to serve a bench warrant from Cheektowaga Town Court accusing him of skipping a court date there on charges of unlicensed driving and disorderly conduct.

Wolf fled, but police finally nabbed him in Pat's Place, a Walnut Street bar.

The lawsuit claimed that Bruning punched Wolf in the face and knocked out several teeth.

In an interview with The Buffalo News in August, Police Chief Neil B. Merritt said Wolf, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted resisting arrest as a result of the incident, was subdued after repeatedly kicking Bruning's leg while handcuffed.

Schoellkopf said in August that Bruning struck Wolf with an open hand and used appropriate force to subdue him. Schoellkopf also dental records showed that Wolf's teeth had been in poor condition for at least a year.

Zebulske said in an August interview that county jail staffers had Wolf's jaw X-rayed after his arrest. "Would an open hand have done that much damage?" he asked then.

Wolf has been convicted of 14 offenses in the city since 1992, court records show.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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