ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CN) – Thirteen women have complained to police that a Town of Greece police sergeant ends his traffic stops by wrestling women to the ground and assaulting them, one of his alleged victims claims in Federal Court.
“Sgt. [Thomas] Schamerhorn was the subject of 13 separate complaints filed by 13 women earlier in his career that involved him engaging in virtually identical conduct to the facts alleged herein: in each, traffic stops involving these 13 women ended with Sgt. Schamerhorn wrestling them to the ground and inflicting some sort of injury on them,” Holly Manville states in her federal complaint.
Local TV station WHEC reported that Schamerhorn is so well known for his misbehavior he is known as “the Thumper.”
Manville claims that Schamerhorn’s pattern of conduct came to light in 2004 when a woman sued the town after a traffic stop. Schamerhorn allegedly had slammed her against a car and handcuffed her so tightly it broke both of her wrists. The lawsuit was settled for $220,000.
Manville’s complaint states that Schamerhorn was taken off the road and forced to undergo psychological evaluation, where it was determined that he would probably engage in similar conduct in the future. Despite that, he was back on the road a year later. The department put him on close supervision and made him log a report every time he had contact with a citizen, according to the complaint.
One of those citizens was plaintiff Holly Manville. Her complaint states that Schamerhorn pulled her over, forced her out of the car, then grabbed her and kicked her feet out from under her, sending her to the pavement face first. No action was taken by the department.
Several months later, Manville says, Schamerhorn pulled her over again. According to her complaint, the frightened plaintiff told the sergeant she didn’t trust him and demanded a female officer be present. Schamerhorn radioed for assistance and along with the four officers that showed up, forced her to perform a number of sobriety tests, including making her bend down and touch her toes, all the while making sexual jokes and flashing lights on her halter top, the complaint states.
She says Schamerhonrn placed her under arrest, slammed her up against the police car and then fondled her bare breasts. “He placed his hands on her inner thighs, while pressing himself into her buttocks with an erection while pressing her against the car,” according to the complaint.
Manville says she was screaming for help but none of the other cops stepped in. Schamerhorn’s supervisors ignored complaints about the incident and even denied there were other officers present, despite two of their names being listed on the police report, according to the complaint.
According to local news reports, Schamerhorn made news recently when he headed the investigation of a former sergeant’s hit-and-run accident that sent a pregnant woman into premature birth. According to testimony at the criminal trial, Schamerhorn failed to summon an accident reconstruction team and didn’t use a dog to track down the suspect, who fled on foot.
The Greece Town Board on Sunday suspended Police Chief Merritt Rahn, Deputy Chief William Mackin and Sgt. Brian Ball after State Police were alerted to claims that the three were improperly shredding documents at police headquarters.
The plaintiff is suing for civil rights violations and named Schamerhorn, the Town of Greece, ex-Chief Rahn, and two other officers as defendants. She is represented by Christina Agola.