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North Adams police chief responds to lawsuit alleging excessive force

NAPD Chief Wood (copy)

In a statement Thursday, North Adams Police Chief Jason Wood said a recently filed lawsuit accusing city police of breaking a woman's arm in a 2021 arrest "does not accurately portray the events it purports to describe."

NORTH ADAMS ⁠— After a lawsuit accused city police of unlawful entry and excessive force, the department’s chief says the complaint “does not accurately portray the events it purports to describe.”

In a statement Thursday, Police Chief Jason Wood said that the lawsuit “does not provide the long history of involvement Ms. Guntlow had with the North Adams Police Department.”

In April 2021, Guntlow called police asking why emergency vehicles were outside her home. Police came to her house and arrested her, breaking her arm in the process, the complaint alleges.

Filed May 3 by a representative of Guntlow’s estate, the civil rights lawsuit names the city and four officers. It includes allegations of unlawful entry, excessive force and assault and battery.

All four officers named in the lawsuit conducted a “well-being check” on Guntlow after she called the department multiple times and officers determined that she had made “unnecessary use of 911,” a police report says. Both the lawsuit and police report say she did not answer the door and police kicked it down.

Guntlow died in August when she drowned in a bathtub in her yard trying to treat an injury from her arrest, the complaint says.

The city offers condolences to her family, Wood’s statement said, but he adds: “The city has not received any information to support a theory that Ms. Guntlow’s unfortunate death was in any way related to any interaction she had with the North Adams Police Department.”

Wood did not immediately respond to follow-up questions, including details on the department’s account of what happened.

“At this time, this is the only statement or information that will be provided on the matter,” his statement said.

The Eagle has filed public records requests seeking police reports and 911 call recordings related to Guntlow’s April 2021 arrest.

Police filed charges against her for allegedly making a false report to public safety dispatch and for disturbing the peace, according to the complaint. However, a clerk magistrate at the Northern District District Court did not find probable cause that she committed a crime — and did not issue a complaint, according to the lawsuit.

Guntlow was never charged in court for the April 2021 incident, according to a search of the court’s database.

Guntlow had been placed in protective custody “numerous times,” according to a police report. In 2018, she plead guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6272.

Reporter

Greta Jochem, a Report for America Corps member, joined the Eagle in 2021. Previously, she was a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is also a member of the investigations team.

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