Cops beat and wrongfully arrested a Clinton Hill teen last year, leaving him severely injured and humiliated, a lawsuit by the boy’s family alleges.
The family of Marcel Hamer is suing the city, police department, and two officers for $95 million, claiming one of the cops physically assaulted the then-16-year-old before the officer and his partner arrested the boy without probable cause. A video of the June 2014 incident, which appears to show a cop hitting the teen before the pair cuff him, went viral online several months later.
The suit, filed June 1, focuses on the conduct of the individual officers, but also claims the cops’ alleged behavior was par for the course with the city and police department as a whole, a lawyer for the family said.
“The pattern of conduct was profiling Afro-American males on the street who haven’t done anything wrong, being overly aggressive and rough, and then individual officers not being held to account for those actions,” said attorney James Ross. “They’re allowed to go out the next day and do the same thing.”
Hamer was walking down Gates Avenue with friends near Waverly Avenue around 3:30 pm on June 4, 2014, when a plainclothes cop — identified in the suit as Det. Sekou A. Bourne — jumped out of a van and allegedly accused him of smoking pot, lawyers said last year. The kids started to run, but stopped, and when Bourne caught up to the group, he allegedly pushed Hamer to the ground, the teen later told a nurse.
The video of the incident shows Hamer lying in the gutter, pleading with the cop that he was just smoking a cigarette. The camera work is a bit shaky, but the officer appears to strike Hamer in the face with his left hand. A second man — identified in the suit as Det. Jon Gladstone — arrives and the pair put handcuffs on the apparently motionless teen.
Hamer regained consciousness as paramedics loaded him onto a stretcher, medical records show, and he complained of blurred vision, a headache, and difficulty moving his left arm. One year later, the now 17-year-old continues to suffer from symptoms of neurological damage, including difficulty concentrating and memory loss, Ross said.
In the hospital, Hamer was handcuffed to a bed and cops watched over him as he was treated, according to medical records. Afterwards, cops took him back to the 88th Precinct station house, the suit claims. Hamer was later charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and he pleaded guilty to a violation, Ross said.
Other arrestees have tried to sue Bourne and Gladstone in the past for alleged civil rights violations, accusing them in court documents of performing unlawful stops, roughing up detainees, and ransacking homes without warrants. The cops settled each of the lawsuits out of court, with Borne’s suits costing the city at least $72,888, and Gladstone settling two for undisclosed sums, as first reported by Gothamist.
The police department also launched an internal investigation against Bourne after he allegedly tackled an East New York woman he suspected of carrying drugs, when she was actually holding a lollipop, according to a New York Post report.
The NYPD declined to comment.