In a federal lawsuit filed earlier in the month, an elderly Hackensack man alleges city police officers “fabricated criminal” charges and arrested him during a landlord-tenant dispute on Pennington Avenue.
Hossein Ameri alleges police officers Carlos Charon, Guillermo Galvin “unlawfully” took him into custody on August 12, 2015. He states in the lawsuit filed on August 10th, 2016 he called police after the soon-to-be first floor tenant of his property at 84 Pennington Avenue allegedly threatened him and stated she would burn down the house.
Ameri’s complaint states the tenant, Xgendasia Drakeford, allegedly attempted to move into the apartment pending a lease agreement. She found the building still had boarded up windows. She allegedly became “upset and abusive,” states the complaint.
Drakeford could not be contacted for this story.
The landlord had a contractor present to remove the boards, but waited on the tenant to turn on the utilities. The lawsuit states PSEG technicians were at the location to turn on the utilities.
Police arrived at the location and spoke to Ameri on the sidewalk outside of the home. He told the officers his tenant allegedly threatened him. He also told the officers he had requisite approvals from the city to allow the tenant to move into the building after he removes the boards from the first floor windows.
The lawsuit states the boards were in place to prevent a break in as the home was vacant. Officers Charon and Galvin notified the fire department to determine whether the home was fit for occupancy.
Samuel Gaita, a fire prevention specialist, responded to the location. He determined the building “uninhabitable” due to lack of fire protection devices, emergency exits, and a boarded up rear door.
Ameri states a week prior the city issued a “fire certificate.” Gaita told Drakeford, who paid $2,000 to secure the home, she should find other housing for her and her family. The complaint states Gaita’s findings were appealed to the construction board of appeals and were dismissed.
Ameri alleges the fire prevention specialist’s inspection was biased based on “undue influence and pressure” placed on him by Charon. Ameri and his handyman attempted to remove the boards, but were prevented by police and the inspector, states the suit.
The officers wrote in a report that Ameri did not unlock fences and gates to the property to allow the fire inspector to inspect the rear and sides of the property, according to the complaint. Ameri says in the lawsuit the report was falsified by police.
The property’s two gates led to a basement door, states the complaint. Ameri told the officers he would call his attorney, but police officers allegedly did not allow him to make the phone call.
He alleges officers arrested him. He told his handyman Richard Trinidad to contact his son Nima Ameri, who is an attorney. Trinidad allegedly was told by the officers in Spanish to not get involved or he would be arrested, states the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states police falsely wrote in their report that Ameri, who is 78 years old, was “combative” and pushed one of the officers, and needed to be subdued by force. Neighbors gave an opposite account of the incident stating the elderly man was non-combative and was treated aggressively by the officers, reads the complaint.
Ameri’s son arrived as his father was being placed in a squad car. The son found his father “pleading for medical assistance,” according to the lawsuit. The son began videotaping the incident.
Police told him to step away from the scene or risk being arrested for obstruction. He requested to assist his father. Officers Galvin and Charon allegedly slammed the rear door of the police car closed several times while Ameri’s leg and feet were not inside the vehicle.
Nima Ameri did not respond to a call to provide a copy of the video tapes. He alleges the footage shows police officers laughing as his father, who suffers from multiple medical problems, sought medical assistance.
Ameri was eventually taken to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center for treatment. He allegedly suffered facial abrasion, wrist cuts, and complained about chest and muscle pain, according to the complaint.
An electrocardiogram reading suggests Ameri suffered a heart attack during the incident, states the lawsuit.
Ameri was released from hospital and taken to headquarters for processing. He complained about chest pain and was returned to the hospital. He was later released later that day.