Lawmakers claim they were beaten with bicycles by NYPD in a new lawsuit
The NYPD also faces a suit from protesters saying it violated their rights last summer through "demoralizing and brutal shows of force"
Two New York lawmakers have filed suit against the New York Police Department, alleging they were assaulted with bicycles and pepper-sprayed by officers at a Brooklyn protest in 2020.
State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson claim NYPD cops violated their free-speech rights, used actual bicycles to beat them, directed pepper-spray fumes at them and illegally detained Myrie. Their lawsuit named New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea and six individual officers as defendants.
According to a New York Times report, the suit states: “The experience was a painful and humiliating reminder that following the rules and complying with police orders does not protect Black Americans from police brutality, not even Black Americans who have ascended to elected office.”
The incident happened in 2020 during Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The NYPD is also facing a class-action suit from protesters accusing it of violating the rights of New Yorkers last summer through “demoralizing and brutal shows of force, rather than genuine efforts to facilitate protesters’ protected First Amendment activity.” Additionally, New York State Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD accusing its officers of using excessive force on protesters.
The NYPD released a statement, saying it has a “longstanding track record of successfully protecting the right of the public to protest while ensuring public safety and is committed to strengthening those efforts.” The department noted it is reviewing the most recent claims.
More than 2,000 people were arrested in New York last summer during protests held in the wake of Floyd’s killing at the literal knee of Minneapolis police and that of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, by officers attempting to raid her apartment.
The elected officials’ lawsuit alleges that Myrie — who, like Richardson, represents part of Brooklyn — contacted the commanding officer in his district to let him know he would be attending a May 29 public protest and says he wore a bright green shirt with his name on the back.
According to the reports, officers shut down the protest at 8 p.m., and NYPD officers allegedly “kettled the crowd, then without warning lifted and slammed their department-issued bicycles into protesters, including the lawmakers, hitting Ms. Richardson in the abdomen and pelvis and Mr. Myrie in the back and legs.”
In the suit, the state senator alleges he was also pepper-sprayed and handcuffed with zip ties, only released after another police officer recognized him.