Apartment Arrest Leads to Cop’s 20th Lawsuit

     BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) — A police officer faces her 20th lawsuit from a man who claims she pointed a loaded gun at him and demanded his cellphone after he videotaped cops fighting with his neighbor.
     David Rivera says the altercation went down in March 2015 when he heard a scuffle in the hallway outside his Brooklyn apartment at 2294 W. 8th St.
     It was just after midnight, according to the complaint, and Rivera stepped into the third-floor hall to see two uniformed police officers fighting with one of his neighbors.
     Rivera, who describes himself in the complaint as 45, says he started recording the fight on his cellphone from his apartment doorway, as more officers arrived.
     Police had subdued his neighbor, Rivera says, when Officer Diana Pichardo snatched his cellphone at gunpoint, searched his apartment without a warrant, and then falsely arrested him without any cause.
     Pichardo later fabricated evidence to make it look like Rivera had assaulted police, according to the June 5 federal complaint.
     A copy of Rivera’s footage on YouTube shows the man arguing with officers, saying “I’m in my apartment” and “I don’t need to close my door” while continuing to film the scuffle.
     In the video, Rivera is heard telling police he is videotaping the incident both to safeguard his neighbor and for the benefit of police. “This video works for both of you guys,” Rivera is heard telling police in the video. “You guys always act like it’s against you guys!”
     A moment later Pichardo arrives, however, and the argument escalates. Pichardo is then seen rushing over and demanding to know how Rivera knows the two people who had been fighting with police, then grabs for the cellphone and shouts “give me the phone, motherfucker!”
     The lawsuit says a half-dozen police officers subdued and arrested him, and searched his apartment without showing a proper search warrant, before taking him to the 60th precinct station house.
     Rivera was booked with three felonies and a misdemeanor for assaulting police, but the charges against Rivera eventually were dropped.
     The lawsuit notes that officer Emilio Aponte interviewed Rivera and said he had checked the cellphone’s memory card, again without a warrant.
     Rivera also alleges in the lawsuit that he spent hours in too-tight handcuffs and that he had injured his shoulder entering the police van, but was told by police that medical assistance would delay his release from custody.
     Pichardo, a police sergeant, has been named as a defendant in 19 other lawsuits, a handful of them in federal court. In 2014 the NYPD settled a federal case in which officers falsely arrested three men on Coney Island because they mistook their Jolly Ranchers candy for crystal meth.
     A Brooklyn man’s 2015 federal complaint against accused NYPD officers including Pichardo of a strip-search and false arrest for crack cocaine possession.
     Yet another federal lawsuit, filed in 2014, says Picardho falsely arrested a man named Jamel White after telling him he “smelled like alcohol.” After searching but failing to find any contraband, Pichardo allegedly picked up a small stick and said he would be arrested for marijuana possession. All charges against White were dismissed, and Pichardo and other officers settled for an undisclosed amount earlier this year.
     An NYPD spokesman said there is an ongoing disciplinary case regarding the incident, and that the NYPD is reviewing Pichardo’s history. Pichardo is still on active duty.
     “Sgt. Pichardo broke the law and violated her oath as a police officer,” said Rivera’s attorney Jason Leventhal in a statement. “If Rivera had not recorded this incident, he would have faced those felony charges and the course of his life would have been changed forever. By recording the incident, Rivera was helping the initial officers on the scene by creating strong video evidence of the criminal conduct of the men who were fighting with those officers.”

%d bloggers like this: