Police Brutality - Victim Shot in the Back
On October 9, 2003, a Manhattan Supreme Court jury awarded plaintiff $17.5 million dollars in connection with a shooting by an off-duty New York City Police Officer rendering the plaintiff a paraplegic. The incident arose in March of 1995 in Yonkers, when the plaintiff mistook the off-duty officer for a friend who owed him money and went up to him from behind asking him for the money. The plaintiff realized his mistake, apologized to the officer, but the officer continued the verbal argument and when the plaintiff walked away, the officer shot him in the back. The officer, a now retired NYC detective, testified that the plaintiff grabbed him around the neck from behind, put a hard object into his back and demanded money, that the officer handed him his wallet and $15.00. After being pushed to the ground, the officer got up, drew his off duty revolver and told the plaintiff to "stop, police" because he was going to arrest him.
The plaintiff turned toward the officer, and the officer believing the plaintiff had a gun and was going to shoot him, fired one shot into his back. A knife was recovered from the plaintiff and $15.00 was found on the street when police responding to the shot arrived on the scene. In November 1996, the plaintiff was tried in Westchester County for Robbery in the First Degree and was acquitted of all charges. Today, the civil jury in Manhattan specifically found that there was no robbery and that the police officer provided false testimony to the Grand Jury which indicted the plaintiff. The plaintiff, 32 years old, is a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair and the jury awarded $4 million in past pain and suffering, $1 million for malicious prosecution, $4.5 million for future medical therapy and rehabilitation, and $8 million dollars for future pain and suffering. The plaintiff was represented by Philip Russotti in both the criminal and civil trials.