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Worcester officer cleared of brutality

WORCESTER — A jury has found in favor of a Worcester police officer who was accused in a lawsuit of severely beating a man with his nightstick during a fight outside a club.

Randy Martineau alleged in the suit that Officer Jarrett Watkins struck him seven times with the baton, breaking bones in his head and neck ­area and inflicting other injuries while trying to break up the fracas in April 2005. Martineau, who lives in Fitchburg, said he was an innocent bystander.

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But the Worcester Superior Court jury found Thursday that Watkins did not assault ­Martineau.

Lawyers for the city argued that Watkins intervened appropriately to restore order, the Telegram & Gazette reported.

Watkins, who was off duty but working a paid detail in uniform at the club, said he used the baton twice after verbal commands and lesser physical measures did not work in breaking up the fight. He said he struck Martineau on the leg and thigh.

The city defended the case on the basis that, as a police ­officer, Watkins was authorized to use force to secure compliance with his orders to cease and desist and restore the peace.

City Manager Michael O’Brien said the decision is ‘‘a clear reflection of the highest level of training and professionalism of our Worcester ­Police Department.’’

The plaintiff was seeking more than $350,000 in damages for injuries he claimed were sustained because of unreasonable force.

The trial last three days, and the jury deliberated for 45 minutes.

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