Pepper-Spray Fight in the NYPD

     MANHATTAN (CN) – New York City police officers came up with a ruse to blind a fellow officer with pepper spray to get back at him for accidentally pepper-spraying them, he claims in a federal lawsuit.
     Warner Gomez, a 31-year-old officer with seven years on the force, says he became a target after he and three other officers with the 32nd Precinct had to restrain an emotionally disturbed person late on March 22, 2014.
     Gomez pulled out his pepper spray but accidentally got some on his colleagues, according to the Sept. 23 complaint. While Gomez does not name his partner as a defendant to the complaint, he does name the other two officers, Jacy Reese and a woman he identifies only as “Adelekete.”
     About half an hour after the pepper-spray incident, the four officers reconvened at the corner of West 135th Street and Lenox Avenue, ostensibly for Reese to retrieve a pair of handcuffs, according to the complaint.
     Gomez says Reese walked up to the passenger window of the other squad car where he was sitting, while Adelekete called Gomez’s partner over as a distraction.
     Reese suddenly pulled out his department-issued OC Spray and intentionally discharged it directly into Gomez’s eyes, according to the complaint.
     “Do you think it’s funny to spray other officers?” Reese allegedly taunted him.
     Gomez says Reese’s conduct violated police training protocols, and “risked permanently blinding him as the discharge occurred under the circumstances where he could have sustained detached retinas from the pressure of the fluid discharge.”
     “Blinded and [in] immense pain,” Gomez took an ambulance to Mount Sinai-St. Luke’s Hospital, according to the complaint.
     Though the officer told EMS and hospital personnel that Reese assaulted him, they failed to record the incident, he says.
     Meanwhile Gomez’s partner notified the desk sergeant, who in turn alerted the Internal Affairs Bureau, according to the complaint.
     Several union delegates conspired with Reese and Adelekete, however, to cover up the assault by “failing to notify the Internal Affairs Bureau” and “even lying to [the] then commanding officer,” the complaint says.
     During a preliminary investigation, Gomez says a delegate with the NYC Patrolman Benevolent Association, identified only as “Dadacay,” warned him that he would be labeled a “rat” for the rest of his career and might jeopardize his partner’s promotion to sergeant.
     Once the matter was referred to the Patrol Borough Manhattan North’s Investigation Unit, Gomez says he was discouraged from having Reese arrested.
     Gomez seeks punitive damages for abuse of authority and other civil rights violations. He is represented by attorney Eric Sanders.
     “Unfortunately the police department hasn’t taken any action,” Sanders said in a phone interview. “This is an issue of public safety. We’re trying to get this police brutality under control, and meanwhile it’s going on within the police department.”
     When contacted for comment, the New York City Law Department said it will review the suit.

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