Police chief placed on leave with litigation pending

Lawsuit filed by father of Redding man whose body was mistaken for a dummy

A family says in a lawsuit that its son did not have to die when he hanged himself at his Redding home in April 2016, and Redding Police Chief Doug Fuchs has been placed on paid leave of absence as the town investigates the claims.

The suit was filed by the family of Peter Valenti, who was found hanging from a noose in a shed outside his Blueberry Hill Road home on April 11, 2016.

The man’s body was mistaken for a dummy by the first police officer who found it.

Then, according to another complaint, Fuchs refused to allow an emergency medical technician to check on Valenti, saying he was already dead.

In addition to Fuchs, the Redding Police Department and Redding police officers Jenna Matthews and Mark O’Donnell are also named in the lawsuit filed by Peter Valenti Jr., the father of a man. Also named as a plaintiff in the case is Joann Valenti, the late Peter Valenti’s mother.

“I think that our consistent position has been that this was an avoidable death and we in our neighborhood, state and nation have come to appreciate what first responders do, and the level of their activity as it relates to helping people,” the family’s attorney, Gerard McEnery of McEnery, Price, Messey and Sullivan LLC., said. “The failure of these individuals to help is unacceptable.”

Redding Town Hall received the paperwork for the lawsuit — an almost 200-page document — on Thursday, Oct. 5.

McEnery said emergency medical services technician Sean Morris had wanted to help Valenti, but Fuchs did not allow him to, saying Valenti was already dead. Morris filed a separate complaint almost immediately as it related Fuchs’s actions, McEnery said.

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton said the case is “a tragedy and my heart goes out to the family.”

“We will have to persevere and the legal process will continue,” Pemberton added.

Fuchs’s attorney is James Williams of Williams, Walsh & O’Connor LLC, of North Haven.

The Town of Redding is currently conducting an investigation into the claims.




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