ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Two men have filed federal lawsuits accusing officers and supervisors at the Albany Police Department of excessive force and unlawful arrest.
The lawsuit filed by Armando Sanchez and Mario Gorostiza stems from an incident involving a noise complaint on First Street in Albany on March 16, 2019.
After several requests to open the door at the residence, Officer Matthew Seeber kicked it in. That’s when officers physically removed 42-year-old Lee Childs from his home, sprayed him with mace, and directed everyone else to get out.
It was at that moment Taija Lewis said she took out her cell phone and started recording. She sent the video to the police department, which sparked the entire investigation.
That’s when 27-year-old Sanchez exited the residence. In the police report, officers claimed he was causing a disturbance. But the video shows Officer Luke Deer coming out of nowhere, running toward Sanchez, shoving him to the ground, and proceeding to punch him in the head and face. He then took out his baton and hit Sanchez on the head with the end of it.
After getting Sanchez handcuffed, Officer Deer then ran after someone else with pepper spray, and that’s when a fellow officer told Deer to relax.
The day the department received the cell phone video, Officer Deer was suspended immediately. He is now facing felony assault charges. Two other officers were suspended without pay.
Moments later, according to the police report, 26-year-old Gorostiza encouraged others to fight with responding officers. He, too, was taken to the ground. Bystanders could be heard pleading with officers.
The men are now seeking unspecified monetary damages, including punitive damages, in federal court.
After reviewing the body cam footage, the Albany County District Attorney’s Office said there was not sufficient evidence and prosecution would be an injustice to the three men, so the charges were dropped.
In response to the lawsuit, Albany Police say they cannot comment on pending litigation.
Sanchez and Gorostiza are being represented by the E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm.