Claim filed against city

A man and woman have filed a claim against Huntington Beach, saying they suffered physical and emotional damages after police entered their home and arrested the man during an argument.

Stephanie Costantino of Huntington Beach and Sean Silverthorne of Santa Ana filed their claims with the city March 12. Each is seeking more than $10,000 in damages.

According to the claims, Costantino and Silverthorne were having a verbal argument on Sept. 9, 2011 at Costantino's apartment when police, presumably called by a neighbor who heard the confrontation, arrived at the door.

Silverthorne and Costantino told the group of approximately five officers through the door that the argument was over, but the they allegedly demanded entry. After Silverthorne declined to open the door, the officers told him they would break through the glass patio door if he or Costantino did not open it, according to the claim.

After Costantino opened the front door, the officers tackled Silverthorne to the ground, slamming their knees on his back and limbs while screaming, "Don't resist," according to the claim.

Silverthorne was subsequently arrested and has pleaded not guilty to resisting a public or peace officer. He is scheduled for pretrial April 5 in Orange County Superior Court.

The claims do not identify the officers. Silverthorne cites physical and emotional damages from the incident, while Costantino cites emotional damages.

Attorney Jerry L. Steering, who advertises "27 years experience in suing police officers" on his website, is representing the couple. He said Silverthorne suffered bruises but no major injuries.

"There were no broken bones or anything like that," he said.

Lt. Mitch O'Brien said the officers had done nothing wrong in their handling of the incident. Even when told that a domestic argument has stopped, police often insist on entering the premises to make sure an assault has not taken place or a party is not being held against his or her will, he said.

"The officers, in our opinion, acted lawfully and appropriately in what they did," O'Brien said. "Had Mr. Silverthorne just opened the door and answered the officers' questions, this never would have happened."

City Attorney Jennifer McGrath said her office would not handle the case unless a lawsuit was filed.

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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