Tomás Medina won’t get those minutes of his life back, but he’s getting something back from the city.
On behalf of Medina, The Legal Aid Society and Covington & Burling LLP announced a $567,500 settlement with the city in a case brought on behalf of plaintiff Tomás Medina challenging the New York City Police Department and its practice of using banned chokeholds and abusers the use if tasers.
This comes after the city attempted to get the case dismissed.
Last year, Judge Alison Nathan ruled that the city and top NYPD officials could be held liable for Nunez’s misconduct. “Medina has raised a plausible inference that the NYPD has maintained a custom of tacitly endorsing or tolerating the improper or unconstitutional use of chokeholds and Tasers,” he said.
In 2018, Medina was placed in an illegal chokehold and tased 13 times by NYPD Detective Fabio Nunez during a response to a noise violation. After the incident was caught on video, Nunez remained on the force despite having multiple reports of misconduct. n the had been allowed to continue policing despite a long record of similar misconduct, Nunez was forced to retire after pleading guilty to an NYPD disciplinary charge of using a banned chokehold.
This comes after the two-year anniversary of the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiating complaints against Nunez.
“Being attacked by the NYPD was one of the scariest things to ever happen to me,” said Medina. “I could have died. What they did to me, and what they do to so many other people is not okay, but I take some comfort in knowing that Detective Nunez is no longer a police officer and that both he and the city have to pay for what they did to me.”
Medina’s situation hit home for many New Yorkers and anti-police brutality activists when it comes to chokeholds due to Eric Garner’s death. Recently, lawyers and other petitioners in the judicial inquiry submitted a brief to Justice Erika M. Edwards of the New York State Supreme Court calling for New York City Mayor de Blasio and former NYPD Commissioner O’Neill to testify in court as part of the inquiry investigation into police misconduct resulting in Garner’s death.
Molly Griffard, cop accountability project fellow at The Legal Aid Society, said a settlement for Medina doesn’t erase his experience with former officer Nunez, but it does hold the city accountable in some way.
“While this settlement will never completely right the injustice that Tomás Medina suffered or dismantle the NYPD’s culture of impunity for excessive force, it does provide some closure and sends a message to the NYPD that violence against civilians will be met with consequences,” stated Griffard, “So long as the NYPD brutalizes our clients, we will continue to seek accountability and an end to NYPD violence.”
Ishita Kala, an associate at Covington & Burling LLP., echoed similar sentiments.
“Tomás Medina’s determination in seeking NYPD accountability over the course of two and a half years led to today’s outcome” Kala stated. “No one should be subject to the brutal assault and indignities that Mr. Medina experienced at the hands of the NYPD. So, while this settlement and Detective Nunez’s forced retirement provide Mr. Medina with a measure of comfort, only substantial changes to NYPD’s policies and procedures can dismantle the systemic practice of deploying excessive force against civilians.”