A New York judge discarded President Trump’s claims that his security team couldn’t be held responsible for an attack on peaceful Mexican protesters at a 2015 rally.
The Washington Post reports that Bronx Supreme Court Judge Fernando Tapia denied the commander-in-chief’s motion to dismiss ‘allegations of assault and battery and destruction of property.’ While the president’s yet to be held liable, Tapia said a jury could find that Trump ‘authorized and condoned’ his guards’ use of brute force.
The lawsuit predates Donald Trump’s presidency, first filed three months after he announced his candidacy.
Five men, including Efrain Galicia, say they were ‘confronted’ by guards outside Trump Tower in September 2015.
They’d come peacefully, in response to Trump’s controversial remarks on the character of Mexican immigrants. Each of them said they’d taken offense to the then-candidate’s suggestion that ‘rapists’ and drug traffickers were being funneled across the border.
Two of the men, writes the Post, were dressed as Ku Klan Klan members. Their white robes were donned in response to former Klan Grand Wizard David Duke’s endorsement of then-candidate Trump.
Along with robes, they carried signs which read, “Trump: make America racist again.”
The play on the president’s long-time campaign slogan provoked a sharp response from Trump’s then-director of security, Keith Schiller.
Schiller purportedly snatched the signs from the two men. A brief struggle ensued, ending with Schiller ‘violently striking’ Galicia, who was hospitalized after the encounter.
Since Schiller may not have been acting under Donald Trump’s own orders, the president’s since contested that he can’t be held personally liable for his former head of security’s actions. But Tapia, says the Post, found that Trump could be held “personally liable.”
Tapia opined that “an employer may be held vicariously responsible for a tort committed by his or her employee within the scope of employment.”
The judge’s decision referenced Trump’s own rhetoric, which seemed to condone Schiller’s actions.
“Maybe he should have been roughed up,” Trump said at a rally, “because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
The long-running lawsuit gained its first victory in October 2015, when Tapia granted an injunction free speech grounds.
“Inhibition of the demonstrators’ fundamental rights is irreparable. Loss of one’s free right to free speech is considered an irreparable injury,” determined Tapia.
And Monday only brought further gains for Galicia and his comrades, who’ve tried holding the Trump Organization and its head liable for their suffering.
“Defendants motions to disassociate the actions of Schiller, Uher, and Deck from Trump, his namesake company, and campaign as a matter of law is unavailing,” Tapia said.
Bernstein and Dictor, representing the protesters, say their clients will be asking a jury for punitive damages.
“Our clients were violently assaulted by then-candidate Trump’s security team,” they said. “We look forward to trying the case against now-President Trump, Keith Schiller and the other defendants in the Bronx.”
Attorneys for the Trump Organization have called Tapia’s judgment into question, saying the judiciary erred by not dismissing the complaint outright.