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Cellphone video of NYPD lieutenant punching Brooklyn man sparks legal action

2019-09-09

A disturbing cellphone video that shows an NYPD lieutenant pummeling a man outside a Brooklyn liquor store is under review amid an allegation the beatdown was unprovoked, the Daily News has learned.

Punch victim Errol Everett, 33, alleges Lt. Christopher Siani of the 73rd Precinct attacked him during an Aug. 24 encounter outside the store at 431 Mother Gaston Blvd. near Sutter Ave. in Brownsville. The NYPD said Friday it’s reviewing the incident, a video of which was obtained by The News.

Everett said he was attending a nearby family function when he and a woman went to the liquor store shortly before midnight, finding that cops had arrived to try to break up a group of people drinking. Everett said his companion was allowed into the store, but police stopped him.

There was a brief exchange between Siani and Everett, the video shows.

“I said, ‘I’m not trying to disrespect anyone here. Whatever ya’ll got going isn’t my problem,’” Everett told The News. “I was just trying to get in and get out of their way."

Siani then shoved him hard, took him down and punched him repeatedly, the video shows, as other officers gather around.

“I gave to you a lawful order to disperse,” Siani says a few seconds into the video.

Everett replies with puzzled hand gestures, saying, “I’m just trying to go to the liquor store.”

Siani, who was in plainclothes, says, “We’re not doing that tonight.”

Everett turns to his right and lifts his left arm, and Siani is seen shoving him hard, and saying “Good night! Good night!”

Siani is then shown punching Everett, knocking off his baseball cap, and tackling him. During the 35-second video, the officer lands at least seven more punches while Everett is on the ground. Other cops jump on Everett.

“They had me on the floor. They were kneeing me, punching me, I was catching kicks,” Everett told The News.

“Somebody said he 'grabbed the gun,’ so I was scared. I thought ‘What gun?’ There’s no gun around,” he added. “Once I heard ‘grabbed the gun,’ I just felt like it was over. I had nothing on me. I wasn’t doing anything illegal. I felt like Eric Garner with all of them attacking me. I felt like I was going to die.”

Everett, who was charged him with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstructing governmental administration, filed a notice of claim with the city Sunday seeking $5 million in damages. He claims he was punched, kicked, kneed, and hit with an object that he alleges may have been a baton. He suffered cuts and scrapes across his head and body, and claims to now suffer from painful migraines as a result.

Hospital records show Everett suffered a head injury.

“It was traumatizing. I don’t want to be around police at all. I don’t know if they’re here to protect me,” Everett told The News.

According to the criminal complaint and the NYPD, Siani claims he gave Everett and other people “multiple commands” to disperse and leave the location, and that Everett refused. The video shows Siani and Everett speaking for seven seconds before the lieutenant shoves him.

In addition, the complaint alleges Everett “flailed” his arms while Siani attempted to place him in handcuffs. In the video, Everett does not appear to be resisting.

The judge set bail atf $10,001 and his family posted it five days after his arrest.

“The problem of police in our city using excessive force is worse today than it was when I represented Abner Louima over 20 years ago. This problem needs to be addressed by our elected public officials and stopped," said Everett’s attorney Sanford Rubenstein.

The NYPD said a review of the incident is underway and that the Internal Affairs Bureau has been notified. “The NYPD is aware of the video,” said Sgt. Jessica McRorie, a police spokeswoman. She noted at the time, Everett was wanted for a July 28 domestic robbery inside a building on Sutter, where he was accused of choking a woman and hurting her neck. She also suffered a black eye, cuts to her eyebrow and bruises to her shoulder. He was also accused of stealing her cellphone.

Everett is a known gang member, a police source said. Court records show he has five open criminal cases, including the incident depicted in the video and the domestic robbery.

Lou Turco, who heads the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, said “the body camera footage will completely exonerate my lieutenant from any wrongdoing,” adding: “There was a word Everett said that made him (Siani) feel (concerned).”