127 Hornbrook Road in the aftermath of the standoff

DANBY, N.Y. — The legal fallout continues from the fatal standoff in the town of Danby this January.

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Robert Bartholf and Joseph Petricola, owners of 127 Hornbrook Road, filed a lawsuit on Thursday saying that the “excessive” actions of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office destroyed their property in the incident.

On Dec. 30, 2014, deputies with the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office went to 127 Hornbrook Road to serve a DWI warrant on David Cady, 36. Police say Cady then fired on law enforcement, prompting a standoff that lasted 61 hours and only ended when Cady took his own life.

David Cady’s widow, Melissa Cady, has filed a “notice of claim” saying that the sheriff’s office was responsible for the death and that it should have been avoided.

See related: Wife in Tompkins barricade wonders if there was better way

The lawsuit filed by homeowners Bartholf and Petricola comes in addition to Melissa Cady’s claim.

Written by the law firm Williamson, Clune & Stevens, the complaint filed in Tompkins County Court says the sheriff’s office destroyed the Hornbrook Road home by acting “negligently and with excessive and overwhelming force.” It names both the sheriff’s office and Tompkins County as defendants.

127 Hornbrook Road in the aftermath of the standoff

The lawsuit does not list a dollar amount requested in damages, but says that the homeowners “were forced to expend large sums of money in amounts yet to be precisely determined for the loss of rents, demolition, decontamination, removal, disposal and rebuilding of the premises.”

The sheriff’s office and other local law enforcement have defended their actions that day. Sheriff Ken Lansing told Tompkins lawmakers in an “after-action” report this March that Cady created a “fatal funnel” that justified the barricade and all caution against a potentially lethal suspect.

Independent experts have agreed. “I think the police did what they were supposed to do,” said policing expert John DeCarlo, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who agreed to review the known facts about the case for The Voice in January..

“Once they were there, the police department does not have the option of saying ‘Okay never mind.’”

Click on the Ithaca Voice Story Database to learn more. Stories on this topic are filed under “Danby standoff leads to man’s death.”
Click on the Ithaca Voice Story Database to learn more. Stories on this topic are filed under “Danby standoff leads to man’s death.”

Still, dozens of community members, the Cady family and, now, the homeowners of the property have publicly criticized how local law enforcement handled the incident.

“Defendants negligently and with excessive and overwhelming force fired a large number of explosive devices into the premises, thereby causing significant damage to the premises,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit says that the loss to the homeowners went beyond the property itself.

“Defendants’ unreasonable, unnecessary and negligent acts caused the plaintiffs to spend countless hours communicating and/or meeting with Town officials, contractors, trash haulers etc. to deal with the aftermath of the defendants’ actions,” the lawsuit states, “resulting in uncompensated time and energy loss for the plaintiffs.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.