NYPD facing $3mil lawsuit for nightstick attack caught on video – report

Reuters/Chip East
A Brooklyn man is planning to file a $3 million lawsuit against the city of New York alleging excessive force was used against him by a nightstick-wielding NYPD officer in November.

The officer, Evans Mazile, was caught on video hitting Donovan Lawson, 20, in the head with a nightstick, drawing a significant amount of blood. The police encounter occurred on Nov. 20, after Lawson allegedly attempted to skip a fare at the Myrtle Ave. and Broadway subway station in central Brooklyn.

Lawson’s lawyer, Ilissa Brownstein, told the New York Daily News that she has filed lawsuit notices with the city on behalf of Lawson and his girlfriend, Ceanna Pulido-Wolf, who was also arrested.

Last week, after rejecting a previous deal, Lawson agreed with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office to a dismissal of charges for fare dodging and resisting arrest if he stays clear of legal trouble for the next six months, according to the Daily News. He also chose to enter a drug treatment program in a deal to avoid violation of his parole for an earlier robbery charge.

Brownstein said the Brooklyn D.A. chose not to prosecute Pulido-Wolf, who is now seeking $1 million in damages for false arrest.

The incident on Nov. 20 began as Lawson tried to “piggyback through the turnstile behind Pulido-Wolf who was using her student MetroCard,” the Daily News reported.

Prosecutors are investigating Officer Mazile and whether the case should be presented to a grand jury.

Mazile’s police union lawyer claimed the officer still has injuries from the scuffle with Lawson.

“It’s always disappointing to me when an officer is injured due to an arrest and there’s no communication from the D.A.’s office for the officer’s input as to a disposition of the matter,” said Stuart London, an attorney with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

Brownstein said Lawson has suffered headaches and memory loss from the nightstick injury, adding that the D.A.’s actions prove the office is taking Mazile’s use of force to heart.

“The fact that the D.A. offered an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is telling because it shows they are taking the use of excessive force seriously,” Brownstein said.

While relations between police and many communities, especially of color, in New York have long been considered tense, a recent grand jury decision not to indict white police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the July choking death of unarmed black man Eric Garner for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes helped spark a new round of anti-police brutality and anti-profiling protests in New York and across the nation.

When two police officers were gunned down in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, many NYPD officers and their backers blamed protesters - and the lukewarm support for their message shown by Mayor Bill de Blasio - for a dangerous, "anti-police" environment despite the longstanding antagonistic relationship between police and citizens, most exemplified by the stop-and-frisk program that was deemed by a federal judge to be a systemically racist policing strategy that violated constitutional rights.

Yet since the Dec. 20 slayings, enforcement of low-level crimes like public urination, traffic violations, illegal parking, and other infractions has plummeted, with police sources citing safety concerns and, for some, indignation over a perceived lack of support from the city’s mayor.