A federal lawsuit accuses two city police officers of having punched and stomped an arguing couple.
The two city residents Carlos Rodriguez and Darline Espinal allege that two police officers responded to their Paterson Avenue apartment following an argument that dragged on between the two.
Officers David Baird and Victor Ungarian knocked on the apartment door. Rodriguez responded opening the door. According to the suit: “Ungarian asked Rodriguez ‘What happened?’”
Rodriguez told the officers there was no issue and told them to leave. “Rodriguez respond by saying: ‘nothing is wrong…leave,’” reads the suit.
“Ungarian punched Rodriguez without provocation or justification on the face knocking him unconscious,” states the suit. After the officer knocked Rodriguez to the ground, Espinal came out of her room screaming, demanding answers from the officers.
The suit states Espinal ran out of her room asking the officer who had just punched Rodriguez, “Why did you do that?” reads the suit.
“Ungarinan turned around and also punched Espinal on the face,” alleges the suit. “Espinal felt face down on the floor and…Baird started stomping on her to keep her from moving.”
Rodriguez who was unconscious came out of his state and seeing Espinal screaming he attempted to get off the ground. “Ungarian saw him trying to get up and kicked him on the face splitting his head open by the eyebrow,” reads the suit.
The incident occurred on June 9th, 2012, when Rodriguez and Espinal engaged in a verbal dispute outside their home. The dispute was dragged indoors, according to the suit.
A neighbor heard the two arguing inside their apartment. He knocked on the door to ask whether everything was okay. Espinal informed him everything was fine, and the neighbor departed. 20-minute later Baird and Ungarian were knocking on the door.
Subsequently, “Baird picked up Espinal, cuffed her and brought her downstairs,” reads the suit. Ungarian remained with Rodriguez in the apartment for about ten-minute, according to the suit.
Ungarian, alleges the suit, “hit Rodriguez with his baton on the head” after the officer handcuffed him in front of another set of neighbors.
In their suit against the city’s police department Rodriguez and Espinal state the officers violated their civil rights and constitutional guarantees.
Rodriguez and Espinal, both of whom are Hispanic, also claim that officers attacked them based on their race. Rodriguez and Espinal “were deprived of their right to equal protection when they were selectively targeted by the Officer Ungarian and Officer Baird because of their race and ethnicity,” alleges the suit.
The couple are asking “compensatory, exemplary, punitive damages” against the city, according to the suit.