A federal lawsuit was filed July 15 against a former Dewey Beach police officer who was also indicted in November 2019 by a grand jury regarding an August 2019 incident near Bellevue Street.
The 14-count lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware by attorney Patrick Gallagher on behalf of Mark Taylor of Kent County, includes 12 counts against former officer Gregory Lynch Jr. of Milford, one against a police officer identified as Jane Doe, and one against the Town of Dewey Beach.
Taylor is represented by both Jacobs & Crumplar and Curley Dodge Fitzgerald & Funk of Dover. Reached for comment July 21, attorney Gallagher said the lawsuit speaks for itself.
“What the defendant Lynch did to Mr. Taylor was outrageous and reprehensible,” Gallagher said. “What is more astonishing is the fact that the Town of Dewey Beach has turned a blind eye to the use of force by its officers, and especially defendant Lynch, over the years. This is a matter of great public importance for the citizens of Dewey Beach and all those who spend their vacations there.”
The lawsuit states that between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2019, Taylor, who had been drinking, was with friends when he decided to return to where he was staying. Taylor lost his balance, fell and struck his head on a road sign; he lost consciousness and was bleeding from the back of the head, the suit states.
Several Dewey officers arrived and assisted with the bleeding, the suit states. Taylor said he did not want to go to the hospital, but agreed to be evaluated on a stretcher by an ambulance crew, the lawsuit states.
Taylor was sitting on the stretcher when Lynch began forcefully telling Taylor to put his legs on the stretcher, the lawsuit states. When Taylor repeated he did not want to go to the hospital, Lynch grabbed his leg and slammed it on the stretcher, and pushed Taylor onto the stretcher by his chest, the suit states.
“Lynch then began to punch Taylor four to five times in the face, causing Taylor’s face to bleed,” the suit reads. “Lynch’s punches were so forceful that the stretcher began to rise off of the ground, and others standing nearby had to hold it down so that it did not flip over.”
The lawsuit states that Taylor was handcuffed to the stretcher, covered in blood and confused when the ambulance crew began to push the stretcher into the ambulance.
“Lynch jumped into the back of the ambulance [and] slammed Taylor’s head down onto the stretcher,” the suit states. “At no point did Taylor physically assault or batter Lynch. Taylor did put his hands up during Lynch’s attack to protect his face from Lynch.”
The lawsuit states that Taylor was taken to Beebe Healthcare and a member of the ambulance crew seemed upset regarding Lynch’s behavior, and that no officers asked Taylor’s friends for a statement.
The lawsuit states that Lynch filed a sworn affidavit that Taylor had tried to strangle him and that Taylor was initially charged with strangulation and offensive touching; all charges against Taylor were dismissed or not prosecuted.
After going to Beebe, Taylor awoke at Sussex Correctional Institution with a headache, nausea, black and swollen eyes, skin glue on his nose and staples in the back of his head, the suit states, and was incarcerated from Aug. 10 to 12, 2019.
Lynch was subsequently indicted by a grand jury in November 2019 and charged with second-degree assault, second-degree perjury and official misconduct. In that case, he is scheduled for final case review Wednesday, Sept. 8, with a trial projected to start Sept. 13.
The lawsuit filed July 15 also details instances in 2011 and 2014 in which Lynch was accused of using excessive force. In the 2011 incident, Lynch and another officer threw a man in his 60s from his bicycle to the ground, the suit states. In August 2014, the Town of Dewey Beach reached a $175,000 settlement in the case.
In 2014, the suit states, a woman filed a civil suit against Lynch alleging excessive force, unlawful detention and arrest, battery, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and First Amendment retaliation after Lynch threw her into a door and to the ground during questioning. Unbeknownst to Lynch, the suit states, someone had videotaped his encounter with the woman, and all charges against her were dropped or not prosecuted.
Taylor was signed up to join the Navy, the suit states, and was expected to call in to the Navy every Monday. He was incarcerated on Monday, Aug. 12, and unable to report, thus causing problems with his enlistment, which ultimately led to his not joining the Navy and loss of his $8,000 signing bonus, the suit states.
Other damages Taylor sustained as cited in the lawsuit include bodily injuries to the head and face, fear and apprehension for his physical safety, deprivation of his constitutional rights, mental and emotional stress and anxiety, lost wages, and inconvenience to and disruption of his life.
The 12 counts against Lynch are excessive force, unlawful detention and arrest/false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, wanton negligence, abuse of process, abuse of process constitutional, malicious prosecution, false arrest, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false imprisonment. The count against Jane Doe is failure to intervene, and the count against the town involves Monell liability, which means the town did not take action in regard to previous instances of excessive force used by police; the suit details excessive force cases against the town in 2004, 2012, 2013 and 2019.
Taylor requests the awarding of special damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs and attorneys’ fees, pre- and post-judgment interest, and any other relief the court deems proper, the suit states.
Dewey Beach Mayor Dale Cooke said town administration takes any accusation against the town very seriously.
“For the many years I have been involved with the town and employees, they have always attempted to treat everyone with dignity and respect,” Cooke said.
Police Chief Sam Mackert said the town had not yet been served with the lawsuit, so it would be inappropriate for him to comment on it.