Fata Sakoc will receive $550,000 in a settlement of a lawsuit against a former Vermont State Police trooper, who allegedly wrongfully arrested her in a 2010 traffic stop.
Officer Timothy Carlson pulled over Sakoc, who is originally from Bosnia, while she was driving on Vermont 15 in Essex on her way home from a shift at The Converse Home, a residential care facility in Burlington, because one of her headlights was out. Carlson said he started questioning her and then asked her to step out of the car after her responses were delayed. He was suspicious that she had been drinking, so he asked her to take a field sobriety test and a breath test.
Sakoc assured Carlson that she never drank alcohol, but took the tests anyway. Her breath tested resulted in a 0.0 percent blood alcohol content. However, Carlson thought that Sakoc “bombed that field sobriety” and asked for a drug recognition to come to the scene. Officer Matt Plunkett showed to the scene shortly after and Carlson told him that Sakoc cut in front of another vehicle and almost cause an accident.
Carlson then asked Sakoc if she was on any medications that evening and she said that she hadn’t used any that night. He still arrested her over suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.
Carlson took Sakoc to the University of Vermont Medical Center to get a blood sample. She tested negative for drugs and was released.
Sakoc was never criminally charged for the traffic stop, but the incident negatively affected her mental and employment state. The incident triggered post traumatic stress disorder that originated from her experiences in Bosnia, so she wasn’t able to work as a nursing assistant anymore.
“There was just never any basis for any criminal charge, and there was never any basis to even arrest her,” Sakoc’s lawyer, Brooks McArthur said. “It’s taken a long time for her to get back to a place where she can trust law enforcement.”
Assistant Attorney General David McLean said that the state has agreed to pay $550,000, but that doesn’t mean Carlson is admitting to any wrongdoing.
“We believe that Trooper Carlson behaved appropriately throughout the stop, he was very respectful to Ms. Sakoc,” McLean said. “He was attempting to fulfill his duty to protect public safety.”
Carlson resigned from the Vermont State Police on April 28, 2013 and then joined the U.S. Army.
If you believe you have suffered from an unlawful arrest, it may in your best interest to reach out to Cohen & Cohen, P.C. and we can set you up with a skilled attorney on our team to help your case.