Thursday, September 23, 2021


New York mayor, police commissioner sued over clashes at George Floyd protests

NEW YORK - Eleven people sued New York City and its police department Monday over officials' handling of racial-justice protests earlier this year, saying their rights were violated when law enforcement employed heavy-handed tactics to quell demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd.



The civil complaint, filed in federal court by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society, names Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, among others. To date, it is the largest lawsuit brought against City Hall in response to the nightly clashes that gripped New York following Floyd's death while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified financial damages.

"Over and again, at protests throughout the City in May and June, NYPD officers descended on protesters with unjustifiable fist and baton strikes, chemical pepper spray attacks, and other acts of physical violence," the complaint says.

One of the plaintiffs, Charlie Monlouis-Anderle, suffered a broken arm at the hands of police, the complaint alleges. Another, Vidal Guzman, was pepper sprayed in the face, it says. Eight others claim they were wrongly arrested while exercising their right to protest.

"We will review the lawsuit if and when we are served," an NYPD spokesperson said Monday. The city's legal department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jarrett Payne, 34 of Queens, was arrested June 2 after the city's 8 p.m. curfew while marching along Fifth Avenue outside of Central Park. The complaint says he was struck in the face by a police baton without any warning. He was then shoved to the ground even though he was not resisting, it says.

"Payne's body struck something hard - possibly a bench - and then fell into the wall of Central Park and onto the ground, knocking his glasses off his face so he could not see properly," the lawsuit says, alleging that several police officers continued to beat him with batons while pinning him to the ground.

Payne's summonses were eventually dismissed by the district attorney's office.

In an interview, he said he still experiences pain from his injuries and for a time was unable to jog or do other exercise.

"I couldn't really do anything. I couldn't ride a bike, couldn't run at all," he said, noting that only within the last month did he start exercising again.

Law enforcement advocates have pointed out that, during the protests, there were numerous incidents of violence against police, leading to aggressive arrests.

But Corey Stoughton, one of the lead attorneys on the case, said the conduct alleged in the lawsuit was not in response to the rioting or looting that plagued parts of the city during the protests.

"This pattern started before the looting and it continued after the looting," Stoughton said, adding that the aggressive tactics were "not about enforcing the curfew [but] . . . about the NYPD's reaction to the protests calling for police accountability."

Published : October 27, 2020

By : The Washington Post Shayna Jacobs