This week, a couple stories that should cause anyone critically thinking to see that those wearing badges aren’t always operating with the best intentions.
Brooklyn Man Alleges in Lawsuit He Was Threatened by Suffolk Cop
A Brooklyn man says a Suffolk police officer threatened to take him to a wooded area and beat him after a traffic stop, according to a lawsuit filed this month in U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit alleges Sandino Hazzard’s civil rights were violated after an officer pulled him over in North Babylon a couple of years ago and falsely arrested him. In addition, police used excessive force when an unidentified officer allegedly “pushed, assaulted and strip searched” Hazzard, the suit states.
Hazzard, 30, was stopped by police because he was “a black man driving in Suffolk County,” said his attorney, Amy Marion, of Garden City.
In an email, a spokesman for the department said, “The Suffolk County Police Department does not comment on pending litigation.”
After detaining Hazzard, the officer drove him in a squad car to a wooded area and threatened him, Marion said, before driving him to the precinct, where he was “made to strip and stand naked in the jail cell.”
“They drove him to a wooded area and said, ‘You don’t do this around here. This is what happens,’” Marion said. “He thought he was going to be beaten and killed. He was absolutely horrified.”
Hazzard was suspended from his job after his arrest and incurred “mental anguish, emotional distress and injury,” according to the suit. He’s seeking a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages.
Hazzard was commuting from his job in Suffolk when he was stopped on the evening of Aug. 15, 2012, by Suffolk Officer Douglas Cortes.
Hazzard asked Cortes why he was being pulled over, an inquiry that upset the officer, Marion said. Police alleged Hazzard had a broken taillight, which Hazzard’s attorney denies.
Hazzard was arrested, charged with disorderly conduct and given a ticket for a defective brake light, the suit said. The charges were ultimately dismissed, the lawsuit said.
“The cops said he was talking back to them,” said Marion. “There’s nothing about that that’s disorderly. He’s just asserting his First Amendment right.”
Officer Accused of Stealing Thousands From Evidence Room
A Reading police officer is accused of stealing money that was being held as evidence in criminal cases.
Jodi Royer faces numerous theft charges for stealing money from the evidence room that he was assigned to protect over three years ago.
According to an affidavit, another Reading police officer discovered about $2,000 missing from a case he was working on. Officers later caught Royer trying to put the money back.
Police say about $14,000 is still missing from various cases.
At a press conference held on Wednesday, the Berks County District Attorney, John Adams, described the crime as a sad violation of trust. So far, Adams doesn’t believe any former or current cases were compromised because of the theft.
He believes Royer’s motive stems from a gambling problem.
Upland Man Who Was Shot 10 Times Sues City, Police Department, and Officers
A man who was shot 10 times by police last year is suing the city, claiming the officer-involved shooting at close range was unjustified.
In a lawsuit filed in West Valley Superior Court against Upland’s police department and three officers, attorney Robert Schauer alleges the police officers used excessive force when they shot then 18-year-old Christian Rodriguez several times at close range, and that he did not pose a threat to law enforcement.
However, police said last year that Rodriguez was armed with a handgun when he was shot.
“There was no gun, no knife by their own admission,” said Schauer, based on police transcripts. “They made a terrible, terrible mistake.”