Federal lawsuit filed against two Amherst detectives

Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

AMHERST — Two Amherst Police officers face a federal civil rights lawsuit related to their alleged denial of anti-seizure medication to a Belchertown man following his arrest in 2014.

The lawsuit filed Sept. 7 on behalf of Joshua Sampson in U.S. District Court in Springfield by the Boston law office of Howard Friedman, claims that Jamie Reardon and Marcus Humber, both detectives, refused to allow Sampson, diagnosed with epilepsy, to have the prescription drug Keppra. This caused him to suffer seizures lasting more than two hours while he was held at the police station June 4, 2014.

Sampson was arrested with another person on charges of possession with intent to distribute Class B and E substances and possession and cultivation of a Class D drug (marijuana).

Friedman said his client has no issues with the arrest, which he said led to Sampson submitting to facts sufficient to warrant a guilty finding in Eastern Hampshire District Court, but is concerned with what happened while he was held in a cell at the police station.

“The criminal case is over,” Friedman said. “Our case is all about how you treat people who are arrested.”

The lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages, asserts that during his arrest, at around 4:30 p.m., Sampson told the officers that he needed to take his medication, which was in a properly labeled prescription bottle. Instead, according to the suit, the officers, including Reardon, seized the Keppra from Sampson and prevented him from taking the medication.

In addition, Humber, who booked Sampson, denied him this medication, even after Sampson’s mother dropped off an additional marked bottle of Keppra and told Humber that her son needed the pills immediately, according to the lawsuit.

But according to the lawsuit, “Humber wrote in his report of the incident that, after being told that his mother had dropped off additional medication, Mr. Sampson said he did not need to take his Keppra. This is not true. Defendant Humber fabricated these statements to cover up his deliberate failure to provide Mr. Sampson with his medication.”

“The most troubling part is the police report says that he did not need to take the Keppra, that he said, ‘oh no, I don’t want it,’” Friedman said.

But without the medication, which he had not taken that morning, Sampson suffered a seizure and had difficulty breathing, Friedman said.

Around 7:25 p.m. that day, Sampson began having a seizure and was taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, and then to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. He was eventually placed in a medically induced coma.

The lawsuit states that Sampson has short-term memory problems and trouble with mental and verbal connections because of this incident.

Contacted Sept. 7, Amherst Police Chief Scott Livingstone said he was not aware of the lawsuit.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.