Wounded girlfriend of off-duty Vt. deputy who was involved in gunfight sues city, PD

Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino counters claims of negligence saying video shows Cali Brown placed herself in the line of fire

Click here to watch additional bodycam and street camera footage of this incident. 

By Shenandoah Briere
The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The woman injured during the Nov. 20 shooting on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs is alleging negligence and carelessness on the part of both the city and city police department.

The woman, Glens Falls resident Cali Brown, filed the notice of claim against the city and police department signifying her intent to sue through her attorney Stephen Coffey of O'Connell & Aronowitz. The notice is the first public identification of Brown as the woman shot in the incident.

The city received and filed the claim on Feb. 2, according to documents received Tuesday by the Gazette.

"... the claimant, Cali Brown, was a bystander in an altercation involving firearms being discharged, when the Saratoga Springs Police Department discharged their firearms, hit the claimant, Cali Brown, in the left arm and caused her to suffer serious injuries," the claim states.

In the Nov. 20 incident, Saratoga Springs police officers shot a man numerous times after he failed to lower his weapon, according to police. Three officers were involved in the shooting, according to court documents. The man, who survived but was badly injured, was identified as Vito Caselnova, an off-duty Rutland County, Vermont sheriff's deputy. Police have said that Caselnova and a man from Utica were shooting at each other, with the Utica man being struck. He was taken to the hospital along with Caselnova. Both are recovering. Brown is Caselnova's girlfriend.

According to the claim, Brown alleges the following related to the city and police:

— That they were negligent in their use of firearms and excessive force.

— That they weren't properly trained or instructed in the use and discharge of firearms.

— That they did not properly comply with all procedures when it came to discharging firearms.

— That they did not properly warn bystanders.

— That they failed to protect Brown.

"By failing to be properly trained, instructed and compliant with all procedures with regards to the use and discharge of firearms and weapons, the respondents, through its agents, servants and/or employees failed to timely recognize and determine the claimant was an innocent and unarmed bystander who posed no serious danger or threat," the claim states.

Brown said she has suffered serious injuries due to being shot in her left arm, including muscle tissue damage, debris left inside her arm, muscle swelling, tingling of the arm, infection of the gunshot and psychological damages.

Coffey could not be reached for additional comments.

Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino said he invites anyone who doubts the actions of the officers to watch the video footage released of the shooting.

"You can see that she places herself in the line of fire, literally, and our officers were acting in a controlled and disciplined manner responding to a life and death situation," he said. "If anything, her conduct is what caused the situation with her and that's readily visible on the video."

Montagnino said the three officers, none of whom have been identified, were not investigated for any wrongdoing in the shooting.

Those officers, two of which are field training officers, are expected to return to work soon following final evaluations. Montagnino said those evaluation should be done in a week or two.

The case is currently being investigated by the county District Attorney's Office. No arrests have been made yet.

Montagnino said multiple officers have been issued subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in March.

(c)2023 The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y.
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EARLIER: Off-duty Vt. deputy who was involved in gunfight on unpaid leave

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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