Legal Aid to Bronx DA: Dismiss charges against ‘violently arrested’ client
Stephon Johnson | 3/28/2019, midnight
Lawyers from The Legal Aid Society have called on Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to dismiss charges against a client allegedly assaulted by police during an arrest.
Legal Aid called for Clark to dismiss charges against Johanna Pagan-Alomar, a Legal Aid client who lost her left eye while being arrested by New York City Police Officer Theresa Lustica.
“For the rest of her life, Ms. Pagan-Alomar will be reminded daily of that morning in June when Officer Lustica attacked her so viciously that she lost her left eye,” said Pagan-Alomar’s attorney, Nicolas Schumann-Ortega of The Legal Aid Society’s Bronx Criminal Defense Practice, in a statement. “It is shameful that the Bronx district attorney continues to drag this case on, and that Officer Lustica continues to walk the beat endangering the people of this community she supposedly serves. In the interest of justice, this case must be dismissed immediately, and Officer Lustica must be fired and charged criminally for this horrific assault.”
On June 11, 2018, Pagan-Alomar saw NYPD officers talking to her friend on the corner of Burnside Avenue and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. When her friend was put in handcuffs, Pagan-Alomar asked Lustica and NYPD Officer Konti Markvukaj why her friend was being arrested. According to Legal Aid, Lustica picked up a small, empty plastic bag from the ground, waved the bag in Pagan-Alomar’s face and said that was the reason she was being arrested.
The resulting encounter that followed led to Lustica putting Pagan-Alomar on the ground face up, putting a leg under each of her arms and allegedly repeatedly punching her in the face. Allegedly, Lustica punched Pagan-Alomar with her handcuff keys between her fingers, which resulted in Pagan-Alomar’s eye being poked out of its socket.
Pagan-Alomar was arrested and taken to the 46th Precinct instead of to a hospital for treatment. Once she eventually went to the hospital, she underwent multiple emergency procedures to try and save her left eye. None worked.
Pagan-Alomar filed a lawsuit for damages against the NYPD and named Lustica and Markvukaj as defendants.
In a statement, the Bronx DA's office told the AmNews "We have received the letter and will respond. We will look into the allegation of excessive force, and welcome the cooperation of the defendant in this matter.
Meanwhile a medical expert (who wished to not be named) reviewed and analyzed Pagan-Alomar and said that she “sustained a horrific, painful, traumatizing left eye injury…This type of injury is painful both physically and mentally, as this is trauma that Ms. Pagan-Alomar will need to live with for the rest of her life. In my 20 years of nursing, working in many different areas of critical care, I have never witnessed such an extensive eye injury. In reviewing Ms. Pagan-Alomar’s records, it was painful and emotional as a practitioner to try and understand how such trauma could be put upon an individual.”