A black NYPD officer who was beaten by law enforcement at a birthday party has settled with the city for $5 million.
The longstanding lawsuit was initiated following a violent confrontation in 2010. Officer Larry Jackson says his wife had called police to report a gate-crasher, only for first-responders to beat, pummel and arrest the host.
The case was thought settled two years ago, when a federal jury awarded Jackson $15 million.
But Brooklyn federal Judge Pamela Chen slashed the payout after the police department protested the amount.
“Settling this longstanding case was in the interest of all parties,” said a New York Law Department spokesperson.
The New York Post reports that Chen expressed sympathy for Jackson, writing, “Plaintiff went through an undeniably traumatic experience that has scarred him both physically and emotionally for life.”
But Chen said the jury’s decision to award $15 million is “beyond any reasonable amount of compensation in cases such as this.”
The Post recounts that Jackson was celebrating his daughter’s birthday on August 21st, 2010. Partway through the party, his wife called 911 to report a would-be gatecrasher with a gun.
When law enforcement arrived, Jackson identified himself as an off-duty police officer. But that wasn’t enough to dissuade a group of more than a dozen cops from thrashing him as others stood idly by.
“[The officer] kept telling [Jackson] to relax, and plaintiff kept responding that he was relaxed, but that he could not breathe,” claims the lawsuit.
Characterized as “vicious” by the Post, Jackson was repeatedly punched in the face and choked with a baton. When he tried to escape, the officers only became more violent, pepper-spraying their colleague and hitting him with a baton more than 20 times.
Once the responding officers stumbled across Jackson’s NYPD identification, they released him. He was never charged with a crime, but suffered extensive bruising a fractured hand.
Adding insult to injury, Jackson was suspended from the force and lost 20 vacation days after a department trial concluded that he’d unlawfully resisted arrest.
None of the officers involved in the assault were charged, prosecuted or even disciplined.
Attorney Eric Sanders said the payment serves as rightful vindication but isn’t without its faults.
“This is vindication,” Sanders said. “But the problem is the city still didn’t do the right thing because the cops who were involved in this shouldn’t be police officers.”
Sanders said it’s important to pursue punishment and penalty for the perpetrators.
“The city finally reaffirmed the jury’s and court’s decisions loud and clear about the department’s dirty little secret,” he said. “Now, what’s the department going to do? Hold these out-of-control officers legally accountable for violating Mr. Jackson’s civil rights?”