EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A Linwood attorney has filed a motion in federal court to drop the complaint against two township police officers who were involved in a 2013 standoff that left the suspect, Donald Capriotti, paralyzed from the waist down.
Attorney A. Michael Barker has requested a summary judgment dismissing Capriotti’s claims that two now-retired officers Michael Bordonaro and Steven Swankoski violated his civil rights, intentionally inflicted emotional distress and should be responsible for punitive damages, according to court documents obtained by The Press of Atlantic City.
“We are maintaining a very vigorous defense against all the claims,” Barker said in a phone interview.
Joseph Liguori, Capriotti’s attorney, did not return a request for comment.
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Also known as Donald Gardner, Capriotti is currently housed in South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton for weapons, assault, resisting arrest, controlled dangerous substance and related charges from 2013, according to the state Department of Corrections website. He is not eligible for parole until 2023.
Capriotti was considered armed and dangerous when State Police stopped him near the Travelodge in the township’s West Atlantic City section Nov. 7, 2013.
He fled the car, authorities said at the time. During the chase, Capriotti was shot multiple times.
District Judge Robert B. Kugler filed an order dismissing the charges against the township and Atlantic City in December, but not those against the two township officers, nor those against Atlantic City police Detective Jeremy Nirenberg and four State Police troopers who were also named in Capriotti’s original 2014 lawsuit.
“We’ll be filing a motion to dismiss on Friday,” said John Hegarty, the attorney representing Nirenberg.
Citing pending litigation, the Public Affairs Office of the Attorney General, which will handle any motion for the State Police, declined to comment.
Barker argues in the motion the use of deadly force against Capriotti was reasonable, as he was eluding arrest at the time of the shooting and he was being investigated “by multiple law-enforcement agencies for his active drug-dealing activities, weapons possession and a homicide.”
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“In the days prior to the incident, an Officer Safety Bulletin was issued regarding (Capriotti) which stated that (he) was due to be sentenced to an extended prison term for weapons possession and controlled dangerous substance distribution and that he intended to shoot someone, including police officers before his sentencing date.”
In addition, all the officers who witnessed the incident testified they believed Capriotti had a gun and was pointing it at Swankoski, which is why they fired at him.
After the shooting, it was discovered what the officers saw was a long, black metal pipe, according to the document, which Capriotti denies ever having.