Police car siren Police car lights. Credit: Bigstock.

A former Waterbury police officer fired in 2014 after he was secretly recorded bragging about abusing suspects, was found not liable by a federal jury of violating a man’s civil rights by using excessive force.

Former patrolman Ryan Cubells was accused of striking, kicking and punching Paul Kinion after he allegedly attempted to rob a sports club in April 2011. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in 2011, claimed Kinion’s civil rights were violated and that he suffered injuries to his head, neck and face.

Former Officer Ryan Cubells. Courtesy of Waterbury Republican-American.

An eight-person jury found on Jan. 30 that Cubells, who was the subject of five separate police misconduct lawsuits, not liable. Cubells, 32, was also found not liable by juries in separate cases in November and September. Two additional cases against the former officer were also dismissed on summary judgment.

Mark Perkins said his client Cubells was a good police officer who’s being “targeted.” But plaintiffs attorneys countered Cubells is a racist who has no place on the force.

“The juries did not know that Mr. Cubells was a racist and has said racist statements,” said Ionannis Kaloidis, who represented three separate individuals in excessive-force claims against Cubells. “He talked about the KKK and lynchings on the FBI recording.” Kaloidis did not represent Kinion, but rather three other individuals who sued the officer in other cases.

Two of Kaloidis’ clients’ cases went to federal juries, which both sided with Cubells. A third was dismissed on summary judgment. Kaloidis is with The Kaloidis Law Firm in Waterbury.

Cubells was fired after he was secretly recorded by the FBI as it investigated allegations of misconduct and racism within the Waterbury Police Department, according to the Waterbury Republican-American. According to the newspaper, Cubells bragged about the abuse of suspects by fellow officers. In addition, the paper states, he made remarks that internal affairs investigators concluded left “a very strong inference” that Cubells was referring to lynching African-Americans and contained a “clear reference to the Ku Klux Klan” when he referred to Vernon Riddick Jr., the department’s first black police chief.

Perkins said his client is not racist, and made many “exaggerated claims” both about race and prior cases that were on the FBI tapes.

Mark Perkins with Halloran & Sage

“When you read the the transcript, some of it is inaudible,” said Perkins, of Halloran & Sage. “He talked about wearing something over his head and that was inferred to be a KKK reference. Part of the confusion is that people were saying to him on the tape that he should wear a robe to work and he is repeating it. Another example of that conversation being taken out of context is that there was a new employee being brought back to work and he is talking about giving him enough rope to hang himself.

“But, still, you cannot make such exaggerated claims and that was a problem,” Perkins said.

Cubells, who was a police officer from 2008 to 2014, now lives on Long Island in New York, where he restores buildings with his uncle, Perkins said.

Noting that five of the six lawsuits came after his his client was fired, Perkins accused Kaloidis of “looking for people that were allegedly wronged by my client to bring lawsuits on their behalf. They put the word out seeking people arrested by my client.”

Kaloidis said “some of the cases [against Cubells] were well-publicized. Word got out and people contacted us. Officer Cubells was arresting minorities. He was not pulling over white people from the suburbs or people without criminal records.”

Attorneys representing those who filed lawsuits against Cubells said juries found in the officer’s favor because of his race.

“Juries, especially in Fairfield County, are not sympathetic to a black guy with drugs and a gun and multiple convictions,” said Kaloidis. “Juries are more likely to believe a white officer than a black man with a criminal history.”

Kinion’s attorney, Edward Taiman Jr. of Sabia Taiman, said he believes race was a factor at trial.

“It was an all-white jury and Mr. Kinion is black and was a heroin addict and an ex-con with a gun,” Taiman said Monday. “My client’s prior convictions were allowed to come into trial, but the bad history of officer Cubells did not come into trial. My client did not get a fair shake.”