Sister says corpse was posed, photographed
By Kim Ring TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
WARREN- A police officer and the town are being sued by a woman who alleges her brother's dead body was posed and photographed by a patrolman and the images passed around via e-mail.
A suit filed by Carolyn Carter-Galica of Warren alleges that Officer Mark J. Chase went to her brother's North Street apartment after he failed to show up at their mother's wake and found the man dead on June 19, 2005.
Investigators from the district attorney's office were called, as is routine for unattended deaths
According to court documents, while Officer Chase waited for detectives to arrive, he allegedly placed a Vietnamese symbol near the body and used a cell phone to photograph 38-year-old Robert Lee Carter. The suit alleges that Officer Chase also made "derogatory and demeaning" statements about Mr. Carter's Korean heritage.
Mrs. Carter-Galica said her mother was Korean and immigrated to the United States. Her father, Jimmy Lee Carter, was an American. He died in 1981.
Mrs. Carter-Galica said she began hearing about the possible existence of the photographs in the months after her brother's death. She said people would mention it to her, and one person flagged her down as she drove by to tell her about it.
According to former Warren Police Detective Edward Page, the photographs were shown around at the funeral of former Warren Police Chief Ronald J. Syriac a few months after Mr. Carter's death.
"I was at the reception after the funeral, making small talk, and I said I heard that Bobby Carter died," Mr. Page said. "Then Chase says, 'Want to see something?' or something like that. I thought it was going to be a crime scene photo."
But what Mr. Page saw on the screen of Officer Chase's phone, he said, was "what I believe to be Bobby Carter's deceased body with some kind of game like a PlayStation II that said 'Vietnam' held under his chin." He said Mr. Carter was often referred to as "China Bob."
Mr. Page resigned from his job in Warren in 2004 as part of a severance agreement after he was recorded when he phoned the Police Department, threatening to charge some teens who allegedly used vulgar language near his home.
Now an officer in Vermont, Mr. Page said he was upset by the images.
"Bobby Carter had his problems," he said. "But he didn't deserve that."
The case was filed in Worcester Superior Court but was recently transferred to U.S. District Court, according to Mrs. Carter-Galica's lawyer, Harold I. Resnic of Springfield.
The town counsel has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, alleging that Mrs. Carter-Galica did not bring charges on behalf of her brother nor could she have suffered any interference of her civil rights.
But Mr. Resnic said his client has suffered because of the alleged incident. Court documents he filed indicate the "conduct alleged was extreme and outrageous and beyond all possible bounds of decency and was utterly intolerable."
He also wrote, "The emotional distress sustained by the plaintiff was severe and of a nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it."
Mr. Resnic said that while the town and Officer Chase, both in his capacity as a police officer and as an individual, are the only defendants, he is looking into whether other names may be added to the action.
Then-Police Chief Glenn F. McKiel left his post a year ago and is now chief in Manchester-by-the-Sea. He could not be reached for comment last night.
Officer Chase declined to comment.
Selectman David Delanski, who according to court documents was served with the suit on behalf of the town, could not be reached.
Mr. Resnic said he expects the case could take as long as two years to make its way through the court system.
Mrs. Carter-Galica said she and her two sisters are "still very distraught and we want justice for our brother."
She is particularly troubled because after the deaths of her mother and brother, the family requested donations in their memory be sent to the Police and Fire departments.
While she is seeking $250,000, Mrs. Carter-Galica said she filed the suit "because all I wanted was for people to know what they did to my brother."