ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) – A widow claims that state police released her husband’s suicide note to the media, along with private letters he left for the family. The widow and her children sued New York State Police Officer Steven Nutting and several Officer Does on constitutional claims in Federal Court.
On the night in May 2008 when Garry Veeder committed suicide, his wife, Donna, says she found a notebook containing his final messages.
She claims that Nutting, investigating for the state police, took the private documents as evidence without letting her read the note addressed to her.
“Defendant Nutter stated, ‘I can do anything I want, lady, this is a crime scene until I say otherwise,'” according to the complaint.
By the next day, Donna Veeder says, her doctor had diagnosed her with “dangerously elevated blood pressure,” and she learned that her late husband’s notes had been published on the Internet and other media sources.
“Plaintiff Donna Veeder’s brother telephoned from Atlanta, Georgia, stating he had just read an article on the Internet describing the contents of the notes which defendant Nutting had taken from plaintiffs,” according to the complaint. “Additionally, the local television news stations reported on the contents of the notes taken from plaintiffs.”
Officers also took Donna Veeder’s briefcase as evidence; harassed the Veeders’ daughter, Stacy, “who was dressed in nothing but a nightgown;” and interrogated the Veeders’ minor son, Brendan, without his mother’s supervision, according to the complaint.
Stacy Veeder claims officers followed her around the house, forced her into an unmarked police car and tried to prevent her from having privacy in the bathroom to get dressed.
Before committing suicide, Garry Veeder had been a civilian employee of the New York State Police, his widow says.
The Veeders seek punitive damages and $1 million in compensatory damages, alleging civil rights violations “so outrageous and egregious as to shock the contemporary conscience.” They are represented by Keith Schockmel.