Luis Solivan, a 19-year-old from the Bronx, was walking home from the store last fall when an NYPD cruiser pulled a quick U-turn in his direction. He says he "got paranoid," the New York Times reports, and what happened next might help explain why: Solivan, who was unarmed, ran toward his mother's apartment, where two police officers proceeded to punch him in the face multiple times in what a new lawsuit against the department calls a "brutal and sadistic" beating. The officers charged Solivan with resisting arrest, but a grand jury decided not to indict him based in part on video of the incident captured by a neighbor through the window.
"They just started grabbing me, started hitting me," said Solivan, who, according to the police report, punched the cops and tried to grab for one officer's gun. "I was not resisting arrest." His lawyer, Ilann Maazel, explained that, without the grainy, disturbing video, Solivan likely would have been indicted. "What it shows is shocking," Maazel said. "It revealed that the police did not tell the truth and they wanted to put an innocent man in jail, potentially for many years." (Solivan was on probation for attempted murder as a youthful offender.)
According to the lawsuit Solivan filed today in Manhattan Federal District Court, the police then took him out to the hallway before using pepper spray and slamming his head into the wall, this time off-camera. The officers named in the suit are Thomas Dekoker and Brian R. O'Keeffe. Dekoker, the Times notes, was also found this summer to have used excessive force in another Bronx incident from 2008, with a jury rewarding the victim $500,000.