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More people dying in LMPD shootings


RE: More people dying in LMPD shootings

December 20th, 2014 @ 9:34AM (9 years ago)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- One of the two civil rights lawsuits against Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who put Eric Garner in a chokehold Thursday, ended up costing taxpayers $30,000 in settlement money, according to the plaintiffs' attorney.

The suit, which was settled in January, accuses Pantaleo and another officer of strip-searching two men on a New Brighton street, pulling down their pants and underwear in broad daylight, in March 2012.

It alleges that Pantaleo and several other officers -- Joseph Torres, Ignazio Conca, and Steven Lopez -- "unlawfully stopped" a vehicle on Jersey Street in New Brighton. Another officer, Christian Cataldo, arrived at the scene later.

Two of the car's passengers, Darren Collins and Tommy Rice -- a federally convicted gun felon who had been released from prison five months prior -- wound up suing in Brooklyn federal court.

According to the lawsuit, after getting license and registration information from both the car's driver, Morris Wilson, and Collins, the officers ordered Collins and Rice out of the vehicle for a search.

After they were handcuffed, "Pantaleo and/or Conca pulled down the plaintiffs' pants and underwear, and touched and searched their genital areas, or stood by while this was done in their presence," the lawsuit alleged.

Pantaleo then took the two men to the 120th Precinct stationhouse, where Pantaleo and Torres strip-searched them again, forcing them "to remove all of their clothing, squat, cough and lift their genitals."

Both men were criminally charged, but the cases against them were ultimately dismissed.

According to Jason Leventhal, Collins and Rice's lawyer, Pantaleo had falsely claimed that he saw crack and heroin in plain view, on the vehicle's back seat, allowing the officers to arrest everyone in the car. Wilson admitted the drugs were in his pocket, not in plain view, when he ultimately took a plea deal, Leventhal said.

Collins and Rice each received $15,000 settlements from the city, Leventhal said.

"One of the fundamental, most important things a police officer needs to do is to tell the truth," Leventhal said. "He has no right to strip-search anyone in the middle of the street."


The second lawsuit against Pantaleo is still open - filed by Rylawn Walker in Manhattan federal court this past February.

Walker accuses Pantaleo of arresting him on Feb. 16, 2012 even though he was "committing no crime at that time and was not acting in a suspicious manner."

The lawsuit doesn't specify the circumstances of the arrest, but alleges that Pantaleo "misrepresented facts in the police reports and other documents that the plaintiff had committed offenses when in fact this was not true."

Walker was charged with marijuana-related offenses, and the case against him was dismissed and sealed in criminal court a day later.