your connection to The Boston Globe
Dr. Paul Pongor (right), assisted by Cindy Swenson, performed minimally invasive hip replacement at Marlborough Hospital.
Dr. Paul Pongor (right), assisted by Cindy Swenson, performed minimally invasive hip replacement at Marlborough Hospital. (Globe Staff Photo / John Blanding)

Boston officer tries to rein in trooper; horse butting alleged

It is not the kind of case generally seen in federal court: a Boston police officer suing a state trooper over an incident involving a horse.

The lawsuit springs from the police officer's allegation that the trooper had intentionally made his police horse butt him with the animal's head, after a New England Patriots game, leaving him with injuries that kept him out of work for five months.

In opening arguments last week, the trooper's lawyer, Brian Rogal, said Massachusetts State Trooper John Linquata would never have used his horse to assault someone. ''He wouldn't inflict pain on the horse," Rogal said. ''He respects the horse."

But the police officer, Lawrence Calderone, told jurors that Linquata became furious at him for jaywalking and yanked hard on the reins, causing his horse to hit Calderone's face. The blow felt like being hit with a baseball bat, he said, and it left him with a concussion, blurred vision, severe headaches, and dizziness.

''It destroyed my family life," said Calderone, a father of four young children, who said he could not help his wife during those months he was out of work.

The jury of four men and four women are scheduled to hear final arguments and jury instructions from US District Judge Reginald C. Lindsay today.

Jurors will then start deliberating over Calderone's claim that Linquata should be ordered to pay him damages for using excessive force.

The confrontation occurred the evening of Sept. 23, 2001, outside what was then Foxboro Stadium.

It was the Patriots' home opener against the New York Jets, and they lost 10-3, but it was a notable game. Tom Brady had been called in to replace injured starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe. He became the Patriots' starter for the remainder of the year, and led them to a Super Bowl championship.

Calderone said he cut across Route 1 with his brother and two friends behind a dozen other fans when Linquata, riding a horse named Magnum, yelled at him to come back and use a crosswalk.

''Trooper Linquata asked me if I was stupid," said Calderone, who told jurors that he had apologized for not using the crosswalk, identified himself as a Boston police officer, and asked if it was really necessary to go back across the street, since he and his friends were only a few feet from their car.

''He said he didn't give a [expletive] who I was," said Calderone, an 11-year veteran of the Boston police who works as a community liaison officer at the West Roxbury station.

When he asked Linquata for his badge number, he said, the trooper used the horse's body to bump him into cars that were stopped in traffic on Route 1. Calderone also told jurors that he was kicked in the shoulder by another trooper who had arrived on the scene, and then was struck on the head by Linquata.

Rogal suggested that Calderone was feigning his injuries, noting that neurological and eye tests on the officer had found no damage, although one doctor said it was possible he had suffered some damage to his jaw joint.

Linquata, an 18-year veteran of the State Police, said the assault on Calderone didn't happen. He never heard Calderone say he was a police officer, he said, and he never hit Calderone with his horse.

Linquata said he believed Calderone, who he said stood in the middle of Route 1 arguing with him, was drunk -- an allegation Calderone denied to jurors.

Linquata admitted that he had sworn at Calderone but denied calling him stupid.

Linquata said police on detail outside the stadium are under orders not to let anyone cross Route 1 without using the designated crosswalk because of possible injuries and traffic disruptions.

''I wouldn't let a trooper cross," Linquata testified. ''It sends the wrong message."

''They think if one person can do it, everyone could do it," Linquata said.

The last time he saw Calderone that night, Linquata said, Calderone yelled, ''You're a [expletive] jerk. Don't worry, you'll get yours."

Linquata said he has arrested only one fan in the five years he has worked at the stadium in Foxborough, and that was because the fan had punched his horse.

Calderone said he was ostracized by some fellow officers for suing another officer, but felt compelled to bring the case because of the damage done to his health and his home life.

He added that after the incident, someone at the station left a fake transfer notice on his locker, indicating he was being sent to the mounted unit of the State Police, while Linquata would be taking his Boston police post.

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives