NYPD Loses Several High Profile Police Brutality Cases

In the last several weeks, several New York City victims of police brutality, excessive force, false arrest, wrongful imprisonment, and malicious prosecution have won large verdicts and settlements in both New York State and Federal courts.

In late March, the New York Post reported that a Queens resident has won a sizeable verdict against two New York City police officers who punched and manhandled her, including intentionally slamming the door of their police car into her leg. After the plaintiff received medical treatment for bruises on her face, a black eye, and an injured knee, the officers arrested her for not picking up after her dog—even though she tried to explain to them that her dog was not responsible for the mess on the sidewalk where she had been walking. The jury deciding her trial in Federal District Court awarded her $59,000 in damages for her physical injuries and compensation for the violations of her constitutional rights perpetrated by the abusive officers.

New York City also recently agreed to settle a lawsuit arising from one of the NYPD’s raids of Occupy Wall Street for $232,000. The case concerned the destruction at the hands of the NYPD of what the Occupy protesters called the People’s Library: a collection of over 5,000 donated books kept at the Occupy camp in downtown Manhattan. Around 3,600 volumes were destroyed when the police forcibly entered Zucotti Park in the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2011. As one of the protestors’ attorneys put it, “the destruction of books is a very disturbing thing, particularly when the government does it.” Under the terms of the settlement, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit will receive nearly $50,000. The New York Observer calculates that New York City has so far spent over $400,000 on settlements in lawsuits related to the NYPD’s treatment of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Finally, a jury in Brooklyn has awarded $5 million to a mentally ill plaintiff who claimed NYPD officers broke his hip when he was arrested in 2005. The man, Demetrio Davila, was injured while being handcuffed in a stairwell. The injuries he suffered during the encounter proved so severe that, according to the New York Post, he cannot even get dressed without help. An attorney at the New York City Law Department—which typically defends police officers, district attorneys, and other New York City government officials accused of brutality, excessive force, and many other kinds of misconduct—said the City believes the police officers who arrested Mr. Davila acted appropriately. But with the help of his attorneys, Mr. Davila convinced the jury otherwise.

These successful lawsuits against officers of the New York City Police Department should encourage all victims of police brutality, false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution, or any other abusive conduct to reach out to dedicated, knowledgeable, experienced New York attorneys who can help them fight in court for the compensation they deserve.