A woman has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging Paterson police officers used excessive force against her.
Gabriela Vasquez states on November 29, 2019, she was a passenger in a vehicle legally parked in Paterson. A group of police officers “unnecessarily approached the car” because it was in a “suspicious area,” according to the lawsuit.
Vasquez was 17-year-old when the incident took place.
Police officer Ryan Duffy approached her while she was inside the vehicle. He “very aggressively” began to question her. He then demanded she exit the vehicle.
“Being in a frightened state given her age and the fact that the vehicles were unmarked and some of the defendants were not in uniform, she became frightened and began to retreat into the interior of the vehicle,” states the lawsuit.
Duffy allegedly grabbed her by the leg and tried to pull her out of the vehicle. He was being assisted by police officer Aaron Hensz, according to the lawsuit.
Hensz tried to pull her out of the vehicle while Duffy was allegedly punching her. Hensz was allegedly also hitting her with open hands, states the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states police then filed aggravated assault and obstruction of administration of law charges against her. She was accused of assaulting the two officers. “These charges were purely pretextual to cover-up the unconstitutional and wrongful actions of the defendants,” states the lawsuit.
Vasquez suffered “severe physical and emotional injuries” as a result of the incident, according to the lawsuit filed on October 26, 2021.
Vasquez is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.