Alleged beating caught on video prompts lawsuit against Taunton cop

Detective Robert Kramer, wearing black, and Joseph O'Brien during June incident.

TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — A Taunton man has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Taunton Police Officer Robert Kramer, alleging the veteran cop attacked him in the station’s booking room in an incident that was caught on video.

Joseph O’Brien, 41, is one of several who’ve accused Kramer of excessive force over the years, and this is the second federal lawsuit filed against the detective since January.

In March, O’Brien was acquitted of assault and battery of a police officer and disorderly conduct in connection with the June 1, 2014, incident involving Kramer. A charge of resisting arrest had been dropped before the one-day trial started.

“Officer Kramer was out of control,” O’Brien said in a news release presented by his attorney. “He attacked me even though I was cooperating with his instructions. I’m not his first victim but I hope I’m his last.”

O’Brien suffered a concussion from several knee strikes to his head according to the lawsuit that includes a link to the video.

The alleged beating happened in the summer of 2014.
The alleged beating happened in the summer of 2014.

Taunton Police Chief Ed Walsh, Officer Ralph Schlageter, Officer Jeffrey Martin and the city of Taunton are also named in the lawsuit.

Target 12 reached out to Chief Walsh, who has yet to respond to our request for comment.

The Taunton Police Department launched an investigation within weeks of a Target 12 report on the video that showed the booking room confrontation between Kramer and O’Brien. Schlageter and Martin were in the booking room as well.

Walsh ordered a $4,300 investigation by an independent firm that determined Kramer used unnecessary force. Walsh hired a second expert who came to a similar conclusion. A third expert he hired determined Kramer acted appropriately. And with that, Walsh decided not to punish the officer.

During the trial in March, O’Brien’s attorney Ken Fredette argued Kramer had no reason in the first place to cuff his client on the Taunton green.

“It just escalated from there,” Fredette said. “I’m glad there was a camera in that booking room.”

One of several accusations against Kramer

In January, Rosemary Jenkins filed a $1 million lawsuit in January, naming Kramer and five other Taunton officers. At the time, the city solicitor told The Taunton Gazette that the lawsuit is “baseless.”

According to records obtained by Target 12, O’Brien and Jenkins are two of five people arrested by Kramer since 2007 who claim the detective used excessive force.

In another case, Taunton paid a $60,000 claim for injuries suffered by Celinda Kaye during a 2007 incident. Kramer alleged Kaye interfered with a drug-related arrest, but the charges were dropped in 2008. Kaye claimed Kramer beat her, causing “multiple facial fractures, (and) two broken ribs.”

O’Brien’s attorney for the lawsuit, David Milton, also represented Kaye.

“The decision to settle was clearly financial and not reflective of the city’s belief that [Kaye] would prevail at trial,” Walsh said when Target 12 broke the story about the incident involving O’Brien.

Another case surfaced in May 2011, when, according to court documents, Roberto Alvarez-Delgado claimed Kramer “assaulted (him) causing physical injuries.” According to Alvarez-Delgado’s attorney, the assault charges were dismissed on the day his attorney expected to get Kramer’s personnel file, following a motion that was granted by the judge in the case.

Also cited in a court document is the arrest of Ulises Saldana, who claimed Kramer threw him “to the ground and repeatedly kicked him.”

O’Brien’s lawsuit does not mention a dollar amount.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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