Teen falsely accused of bashing cops fights back in court

Charges dropped against Sunset Park teen after videos show cops lied
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A Sunset Park teen who was beaten by police and then falsely accused of being the aggressor is suing the city and several police officers.

Cops roughed up and arrested 17-year-old Enrique Del Rosario and accused him of attacking an officer during a June 2014 street festival, but prosecutors dropped the charges after police admitted their witness’s testimony was bogus.

The teen is suing the city for compensation, as well as four named officers and five unnamed officers for punitive damages on the grounds they falsely imprisoned him and conspired to frame him, according to a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court on April 14.

“Enrique Del Rosario’s rights were violated when he was violently beaten and arrested by officers of the New York City Police Department, who unconstitutionally and without any legal basis seized, detained, and arrested him, and subjected him to excessive force and excessively and unreasonably prolonged, unnecessary, and punitive detention,” the complaint states.

Cops picked up Del Rosario as he was filming their clash with revellers on Fifth Avenue during Puerto Rican Day festivities on June 8. Police accused Del Rosario of trying to take a police baton and attacking a cop, but prosecutors dropped the charges in March after police admitted the officer who swore testimony against Del Rosario wasn’t even present during the alleged attack.

Suing the five unnamed officers will force the city to make their identities known, the youth’s attorney said.

After his arrest, police held Del Rosario, a minor, for more than 30 hours without alerting his parents, causing his mother a lot of heartache, the suit claims.

“The fact that her son didn’t come home was really terrifying for [Del Rosario’s mother] and for Enrique as well, who had this very traumatic experience and wasn’t able to contact his family,” said attorney Rebecca Heinegg.

Heinegg subpoenaed police department security camera footage from the time of Enrique’s arrest — and police watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park requested the tape through a Freedom of Information Law request — but the city said it couldn’t find the footage, according to Heinegg, and a letter the department sent El Grito director Dennis Flores.

Video shot by Del Rosario and other members of El Grito shows police savaging the youth, and Heinegg expects the city to settle the case out of court, she said.

“These cases rarely go to trial, because they can be disastrous for the city,” she said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Battered: Police left 17-year-old Enrique Del Rosario bloody after arresting him for blocking traffic in Sunset Park on June 8.
El Grito de Sunset Park