A 30-year-old gay Staten Island man claims he was pulled out of his Staten Island home, thrown to the ground and beaten by four New York police officers responding to an early morning noise complaint.
The officers yelled a number of homophobic slurs at Louis Falcone at 5:30 a.m. on June 19 during what his lawyer Eric Subin described as a “savage beating.”
“These guys are criminals,” Subin said at a press conference Tuesday. “They belong in jail.”
Falcone was never charged and plans to sue the NYPD, the city of New York and the four individual officers for $25 million in federal court in the eastern district of New York for police brutality, excessive force, a 1983 civil rights violation and, as soon as the officers are identified, punitive damages.
Falcone was trying to go back to sleep after getting into a heated verbal argument with his brother Scott when four NYPD officers knocked on his door and asked him to come outside, Subin said. As Falcone explained that he and his brother had gotten into an argument, his dog Looch -- a terrier-pitbull mix -- began to bark.
“Looch was barking and they said, ‘Shut that dog up or I’ll f**ing kill it’ as [the officer] put his hand on his gun,” Falcone said.
A video taken by a neighbor across the street shows an officer entering Falcone’s Midland Beach home, pulling him outside and throwing him to the ground. The officers proceeded to kick, stomp and body slam the 5-foot-5-inches tall, 150-pound man in his pajamas.
Falcone recently got surgery on his foot and was in a boot, and as the officers stomped on him he kept asking them to be careful of his foot and made a number of efforts to move it out of the way, Subin said.
“They were piling on top of me, one dug his knee into the side of my neck, they kept saying ‘don’t resist’ and I just said ‘please watch my foot,’” Falcone said. “My face was in the mud my mouth was full of mud and blood and I couldn’t breath.”
The slurs are not audible in the video taken. Falcone said, “While I was on the ground with blood in my mouth one of them said, ‘don’t let him get any blood on you. All f*****s have AIDS, we don’t want AIDS.’”
At one point, Falcone said he just gave up trying to protect himself.
“I just kept thinking ‘why are they doing this to me, am I going to make it out,’” he said.
Falcone’s mother Catherine can be seen standing in the doorway yelling, but Falcone said that she is “elderly and sickly and couldn’t do much.”
He woke up in Staten Island University Hospital at around 6:30 a.m. It's unknown who called the ambulance that took him there. He was covered in wounds, cuts and bruises and his face and body were caked in mud and blood and he had to be cleaned up before doctors could treat him.
He spent around 14 to 15 hours in the hospital and had a broken nose, two black eyes and may need to have spinal surgery as well as more surgery on his foot.
Mayor De Bill Blasio said that any report of prejudice or bias by public officials, especially police officers, deeply concerns him.
“We take this very seriously, the training Commissioner Bratton organized goes right at this issue … the inherent bias we all have and how to address them.” Mayor De Blasio said at an unrelated press conference. “The commissioner made very clear last year he will not accept prejudice in any form on the force … there are measures to deal with officers. I think you’ll see consistent follow through on this issue.”
Falcone rejects the statements made by a police spokesperson that he spit blood in an officer’s face and was acting “belligerent and uncooperative” saying that was a complete lie.
“I am disgusted by spitting in the street much less someone’s face,” he said, “and I may have been sleepy, they did wake me up.”
When he watches the video, Falcone cringes at the memory.
“I want to cry,” he said. “I am disturbed as a person, as a gay man, as a human being.”
While Falcone’s lawyer said these officers deserve to lose their jobs and belong behind bars, Falcone was more unsure although he has “lost faith” in the NYPD and thinks maybe some sensitivity training would help.
“It’s not the faces I fear,” he said. “It’s the badges and the uniform.”