Investigating a Noise Complaint in a Racist Police State. From [HERE] Two of the three men involved in a March confrontation with Albany police have filed federal lawsuits against the officers involved, alleging false arrest and excessive force as well as failure to intervene and supervisory liability.
The men, Armando Sanchez and Mario Gorostiza, seek unspecified monetary damages. Their complaints explain: ‘the police oficers made an unreasonable seizure of them in violation of his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and violated those same Amendments by using excessive force against them. Despite the presence of numerous other defendant officers, none intervened to prevent or stop these violations of plaintiff’s rights. Defendant officers who were present in a supervisory capacity failed to appropriately supervise and direct the remaining defendant officers to prevent or stop these violations of plaintiff’s rights.’
Sanchez and Gorostiza were initially charged with multiple offenses, including resisting arrest, after police were called to investigating a noise complaint at a party on March 16 on First Street. The call turned violent; body camera footage released by the department showed white officers kicking in a door and repeatedly striking Sanchez, Gorostiza and another man, Lee Childs.
The Albany County district attorney’s office dropped the charges against the men two weeks later after one of the officers involved, Luke Deer, was charged with felony assault and official misconduct and suspended from the department. Two other Albany cops, Matthew Seeber and an unidentified officer, were suspended as well. The lawsuit names a number of officers, including Sgt. Jimm B. Lewis, who allegedly was the supervisor at the time. All the cops involved appeared to be white.
The criminal case against Deer was sent to an Albany County grand jury.
The lawsuits lay out what the men’s attorneys describe as unprovoked attacks by the officers, including Deer, who is named in both actions. Both men allege that police filed charges against them to cover up the beatings.
The Sanchez [in photo] complaint states:
On March 16, 2019, while in the City of Albany, New York, officers responded to a call of a noise complaint concerning a residence located at or around 523 First Street.
On said date, having committed no crime, Sanchez was lawfully in the City of Albany, New York, in the vicinity of 523 First Street, in a private home. With no warrant or lawful cause to do so, officers Seeber, Deer and an unknown number of Doe officers approached the residence and demanded that the door be opened.
The door was a wooden-framed door with glass panes which allowed the officers to see directly into the residence. An occupant of the residence, Lee Childs, spoke to officers Seeber, Deer and unknown Doe officers through the closed door of the residence, asked the officers for a warrant and was told there was none.
Although observing no unlawful activity, defendant Seeber kicked open the door to the residence and sprayed pepper spray into the residence.
Officers Deer, Seeber, and unknown Doe officers immediately proceeded to tackle, beat, punch and kick Mr. Childs. officers Deer, Seeber, and unknown Doe officers proceeded to place Mr. Childs under arrest and into custody, without legal cause.
Thereafter, all occupants of the residence were ordered by unknown defendant officers to vacate the premises. officers Deer, along with unknown defendant officers then present, escorted Mr. Childs into the street, some 50 feet away, to a location near a waiting patrol car.
Sanchez, having committed no illegal acts, obeyed the officers’ orders and exited the residence and walked into the street in front of the residence, where he was further ordered by an unknown defendant to “Go! Get the fuck out!”
Sanchez complied with Doe officers’ directives and continued to walk away, backwards, with his open hands raised above his head.
Defendant Deer, standing with several other defendant officers and Mr. Childs some 50 feet away by a patrol car, without reasonable suspicion of any criminal activity having been committed by Sanchez or any other good cause, suddenly turned and charged at Sanchez without warning or explanation.
While running towards Sanchez, defendant Deer began yelling at Sanchez: “Get the fuck out of here! Go! Now!” At all times relevant, defendant Deer possessed an expandable police baton.
While running toward Sanchez, defendant Deer armed himself by placing the expandable police baton into his right hand. While proceeding at a run directly toward Sanchez, defendant Deer punched
Sanchez in the neck with his open left hand, knocking Sanchez onto the ground onto his back, some 8 feet away from defendant Deer. Sanchez stood up, but before he had a chance to move further, defendant Deer charged at Sanchez again.
Defendant Deer, without pausing while charging and gripping his police baton as a cudgel, struck Sanchez repeatedly in the face and head. During the assault by defendant Deer with the police baton, Sanchez continued to walk backward until the repeated blows by Deer knocked Sanchez onto his back on the street again.
Defendant Deer then immediately leapt upon Sanchez while Sanchez lay in the street on his back. Defendant Deer resumed beating Sanchez in the face and head, using his collapsed baton as a cudgel.
Defendant Deer struck Sanchez repeatedly with the police baton.Defendant Deer then extended his expandable police baton and used the butt end of the baton to strike Sanchez repeatedly in the head, using a stabbing motion.
At all times, Sanchez did not resist the actions of defendant Deer in any way. officers Deer, Seeber and unknown Doe officers then placed handcuffs on Sanchez.
Defendant Deer thereafter forcibly pulled Sanchez into a standing position by yanking on Sanchez’s dreadlocks and handcuffed wrists.
The lawsuit says the psychopathic attack caused substantial pain and physical injury to Sanchez, including but not limited to bruising, contusions, lacerations, shoulder injury, wrist injury, nerve damage, concussion, post-concussive syndrome, chronic pain and psychological and emotional trauma.
According to Gorostiza’s complaint:
On said date, having committed no crime, Gorostiza was lawfully in the vicinity of 510 First Street, on the side of a public street, over 100 feet away from and on the opposite side of the street of, 523 First Street.
Officers O’Shea, Albert, Deer and an unknown number of Doe Officers were positioned on the street outside of 523 First Street. Without any warrant or lawful cause to do so, Officers O’Shea, Albert, Deer and Does 1-4 began walking from 523 First Street directly toward Gorostiza, who was standing quietly on the side of the street, out of the lane of travel.
While walking and while out of earshot of Gorostiza, one of the afore-described Officers stated his intention to arrest Gorostiza While approaching Gorostiza, Officers O’Shea, Albert, Deer and Does Nos. 1-4 walked past at least three civilian individuals, whom they did not assault or arrest, to reach Gorostiza.
At least two of the aforementioned civilian individuals were standing in the street, in the lane of travel, when Officers O’Shea, Albert, Deer and Does Nos. 1-4 passed by on their way toward Gorostiza. As soon as Officers O’Shea, Albert, Deer and Does Nos. 1-4 reached Gorostiza, one of the afore-described Officers struck Gorostiza in the face with a closed fist.
A second member of the group of Officers O’Shea, Albert, Deer and Does Nos. 1-4 grabbed Gorostiza bodily, pinned his arms to his side and slammed his body to the ground, causing Gorostiza to strike his head on the pavement.
During this seizure of Gorostiza, Officers O’Shea, Albert, Deer and Does Nos. 1-4 continued to assault Gorostiza by several means, including but not limited to, kicking, punching, spraying Gorostiza with pepper spray, and using a stun gun and/or taser on Gorostiza. At all times, Gorostiza did not resist the actions of Officers in any way.
At all times, Officers took no action to assault, arrest, or imprison the civilian individuals standing by Gorostiza, in the street, or on the sidewalk. Officers focused exclusively on Gorostiza.
“Considering the public outcry that arose out of the shooting of unarmed teen Ellazar Williams in August 2018, I hoped that the police would reexamine how they act while working in the city," said a statement from attorney James Knox, who represents the plaintiffs. "However, the beatings of Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Gorostiza demonstrate that, even while wearing body cameras, some officers remain unafraid to act without conscience toward certain segments of the community."
Williams, 19, was shot by Albany Detective James Olsen and left paralyzed at the end of a foot chase last summer. A grand jury failed to charge the officer with wrongdoing in that case; Olsen subsequently retired.
The release of the video footage on April 2 led to a number of community meetings between residents and Police Chief Eric Hawkins, who started with the force last fall. The department said last month that it is re-evaluating its training curriculum.
Meanwhile, the department is conducting its own investigation into the confrontation, including looking at whether a supervisor had instructed the officers to handle the situation aggressively.
That probe is also examining whether some of the officers may have falsified police records to justify their use of physical force and to explain an officer's decision to kick in the door of the residence without a warrant.