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Lawsuit Claims White Plains Asst. Chief Hit Officer With Chair

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses Anne FitzSimmons, the white assistant police chief of White Plains, of growing angry with a black officer’s handling of a phone call and flinging a chair at him that he said hit his chair, propelling his head into a computer screen, according to the suit.

Officer Michael Hannon’s spinal injuries kept him out of work for three-and-a-half months and continue to limit him to “light duty” work, the suit said. Besides requesting the court set fines to compensate Hannon for his injuries, attorney fees and mistreatment, the suit claims FitzSimmon’s previous emotional outbursts should’ve triggered a department response that stopped her violent behavior. The federal suit names White Plains as a defendant alongside FitzSimmons for allowing the police department to ignore an internal complaint requesting that the assistant chief be disciplined.

Public Safety Commissioner David Chong did not respond to two calls for comment Tuesday. FitzSimmons also did not return two phone calls.

On Sept. 22, 2011, Hannon received a call from someone concerned about a parked car and a complaint about his phone service prompted FitzSimmons to listen to a recording of the call, according to the lawsuit. She then grabbed a chair from the middle of the communications room and lodged it at Hannon’s chair, in what the suit called an assault that “shocks the conscience.”

The lawsuit said Hannon was treated at White Plains Hospital that day and he was later diagnosed with a spinal disc injury and sciatica nerve problem – Hannon began receiving benefits while unable to work.  He has been limited to “light duty” work since returning to the department on Jan. 4, as stated in the complaint.

Hannon filed an Oct. 10 harassment and discrimination complaint asking the department to discipline FitzSimmons, according to the suit. The local Police Benevolent Association (PBA) sent a letter to Chief James Bradley when Hannon still hadn’t received a response on Oct. 26. The officer and PBA hadn’t received a formal response Tuesday, prompting Hannon and his lawyer Mitchell Baker to believe the city still hasn’t reprimanded the assistant chief.

PBA President Robert Riley was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

The lawsuit states FitzSimmons repeatedly used “behavior not in keeping with her responsibilities as an assistant chief of a major metropolitan department” including a nervous “episode” around 2004 that required medical attention, emotional outbursts, and throwing items at headquarters. White Plains and its police have sustained a policy that fails to train, counsel or discipline superior officers, such as the assistant chief, when they misbehave, according to the legal document.

FitzSimmons has worked for the department for approximately 32 years. She specialized in investigating violent crimes against seniors, women and children while previously working as a detective. The West Harrison resident formerly worked in the domestic violence unit and continues to lecture officers about such crimes, according to the lawsuit.

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