Police excessive force case involving oft-accused officer nears settlement

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

TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — The City of Taunton is in the process of settling a second lawsuit involving a police detective who’s been accused in at least five excessive force cases, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

Joseph O’Brien filed the lawsuit last June against Det. Robert Kramer, Taunton Police Chief Ed Walsh, the city of Taunton and Officers Jeffrey Martin and Ralph Schlageter, who according to the suit, allegedly “held Mr. O’Brien while Detective Kramer punched Mr. O’Brien and delivered several knee strikes to his head,” in an altercation that was caught on surveillance video.

The lawsuit does not mention a dollar amount and the settlement has not been finalized, but a court document filed earlier this month indicated the “settlement agreement will be performed within 30 days.”

As reported by Target 12 in 2014, and stated in O’Brien’s lawsuit, “Kramer has been the subject of at least five civilian complaints of excessive force since 2009, including two lawsuits.”

One of those cases was settled in 2009 when the city paid Celinda Kaye $65 thousand for an alleged excessive force incident. Kaye was seriously injured after a number strikes by Kramer. Chief Walsh said the settlement was “financial and not reflective of the city’s belief that they would prevail at trial.”

Taunton police and Kramer have denied he’s used excessive force in the cases aimed at Kramer, including the one involving O’Brien.

The video of the O’Brien incident was recorded, without audio on June 1, 2014, in the Taunton police department booking room, after O’Brien was arrested on the Taunton Green and booked.

Last March, O’Brien was acquitted of assault and battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct.

None of the parties involved in the O’Brien case have returned requests for comment.

Kramer is also the plaintiff in another active federal lawsuit, involving Rosemary Jenkins who is suing Kramer and the city for $1 million.

Walt Buteau (wbuteau@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.