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Girlfriend of deceased in Fox Run Apartments officer involved shooting sues

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CLIFTON PARK (NEWS10) – Kyla Brothers, the girlfriend of Anthony Zaremski, who was killed by police during a search warrant execution in Clifton Park last summer, has filed a lawsuit against the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department and several deputies. The lawsuit, filed by James C. Knox of Hacker Murphy, LLP, was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York on Tuesday.

The incident occurred on May 23, 2023, at the Fox Run Apartments in Clifton Park. According to the lawsuit, Brothers alleges that her Fourth and 14th Amendment rights were violated during the warrant execution conducted by the sheriff’s department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which was part of a six-month narcotics and weapons investigation.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. It does not, however, provide blanket protection against all searches and seizures, only those that are considered unreasonable under the law.

Brothers states that she was staying at Zaremski’s apartment when they were awakened by noise. Zaremski, believing there were intruders, grabbed his handgun and began firing. Court documents indicate that Zaremski was shot in the head by officers while in bed. According to Sheriff Michael Zurlo, two officers were shot as they entered the apartment around 5:42 a.m. on a warrant for a federal investigation. One deputy, whose identity has not been disclosed, sustained a gunshot wound to the right thigh, resulting in a shattered femur.

A no-knock warrant, which allows law enforcement to enter a property without immediate prior notification to the residents, was issued for the operation. Typically, law enforcement identifies themselves just before forcibly entering the property. Such warrants are issued to prevent the destruction of evidence or when there is a significant threat to officer safety. Amid nationwide protests in response to the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, there were extensive calls to end no-knock warrants.

Peter Pullano, a lawyer at Tully Rinckey, commented on the use of no-knock warrants, stating, “the stated reason for the no knock warrants. And you know, the best example is probably in drug cases. If they knock, the drugs are going down the toilet. And by the time they get into the premises, they will not have the proof that they came to, to seek. And that could be true of other weapons being thrown out windows or disposed of otherwise even dropped into furnaces or fireplaces, things like that. So that is why the police in some instances request the no-knock warrant, because if they don’t have it, they’ll lose the evidence that they’ve they’ve come to, seize.”

Peter Pullano also discussed potential legislative responses to incidents like this, noting, “Typically when things like this happen, legislatures do respond and they can consider what we’ve got on the books and see if there’s some way that slight changes in the law would have saved some lives here. The case law itself, because it’s a civil case, probably would not have much of an impact upon the warrant laws of the state or of the United States.”

He further elaborated on the dangers associated with such warrants, stating, “Almost by definition, it creates a more dangerous situation. And if you think about it, most of the warrants that they’re getting are in dangerous neighborhoods, in rough neighborhoods. That’s why the target is, set up shop, if you will, in that neighborhood. And it’s the type of neighborhood where if you’re in an apartment or a home and somebody comes breaking down your door, you shoot first and ask questions later.”

Regarding the legal aspects of the lawsuit, Pullano remarked, “a jury would have to be persuaded that those were, in fact, damages that could be redressed with a verdict. It’s an uphill battle for a plaintiff, something like this, that, again, we’re at the beginning of a lawsuit. There will be a lot of discovery. Things can come out. What was being said on radio relays, for instance, and what was said at the scene? Certainly, there’ll be body-worn cameras and everything else that’s going to have to be reviewed to see exactly what the damage was, who caused it, and what can be done about it.”

He also emphasized the potential escalation caused by no-knock warrants, stating, “when you’re knocking down a door in the middle of the night and people are asleep on the other side of that door, you don’t know who’s hearing or seeing. All they know is their house was just broken into, and it does just escalate the situation in a hurry. So we can hope we can assume that the officers did what they were supposed to. But again, here, the facts have to be reviewed and the jury has to determine did the officers do what they were supposed to do to identify themselves?”

The lawsuit claims that police did not properly identify themselves or announce their purpose, leading to the confrontation. The court documents state, “Police decided to execute a search warrant in the early morning hours and without audibly identifying themselves or without audibly announcing their purpose, creating a violent confrontation.”

Following the incident, Brothers alleges she was forcibly restrained with zip ties, cutting off circulation to her hands, and was detained at the police station for several hours without being allowed to contact anyone, including her lawyer. She was released without charges.

During a press conference at the time, DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino stated, “The seizures that resulted from today’s operation, which include three other search warrants in the Capital District region, resulted in hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills and ecstasy pills seized, and multiple kilograms of cocaine, and nearly 50 rifles and handguns.”

Brothers asserts that the incident caused physical, psychological, and emotional harm, along with economic losses, including lost wages. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney and expert fees.

We reached out to James Knox but he did not respond to our request for comment. Sheriff Michael Zurlo declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.

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