Today the Washington Post published an opinion piece co-authored by ECBAM partner Zoe Salzman and Billy Joe Mills, founding partner of FirmEquity LLC. Both firms represent the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was brutally shot and killed by Cleveland police officers in 2014. In “Tamir Rice deserves justice. The Biden administration could finally deliver it,” Salzman and Mills explain why one of the top priorities for the Justice Department under the Biden administration should be the reopening of the case against the police officers who are responsible for Tamir’s death.
Noting that career DOJ attorneys had twice sought to convene a federal grand jury to bring charges against Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, the authors write, “[B]oth times those requests were stymied by Trump administration political appointees at the Justice Department. They sat on the requests for years, though the department typically rubber-stamps such requests in weeks. … [T]hey opted to run out the clock on the relevant statutes of limitations, which allowed them to silently kill the investigation without formally ending it.” After a whistleblower complaint that included these and other stalling tactics by the Justice Department, the investigation was formally closed without further explanation.
“The Justice Department is supposed to uphold the rule of law without yielding to the bruising tide of politics,” write Salzman and Mills. “We call on the Biden administration’s incoming attorney general, Merrick Garland, who has professed his commitment to the rule of law, to reopen the investigation into the killing of Tamir Rice.”
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Osaze Osagie’s family against the Borough of State College as well as ten State College Police Department (“SCPD”) officers. The complaint addresses the systemic failures that resulted in a State College police officer fatally shooting 29-year-old Osaze Osagie, who was suffering a mental health crisis at the time, on March 20, 2019.
Osaze Osagie’s family hopes to expose the policies and practices that allowed for such an injustice to occur. In a statement released by their legal team, they elaborate, “The Osagie family files this case today with deep resolve, but also with a heavy heart. They are determined to seek justice for their beloved son, which includes holding the Borough and SCPD accountable for their systemic failings in creating and maintaining a broken policing system that caused his untimely death.” The family also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
ECBAWM attorneys Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Earl S. Ward, and David Berman represent the plaintiffs, alongside The Law Office of Andrew Shubin and Kathleen Yurchak from Steinbacher, Goodall, and Yurchak.
In his most recent column for the New York Law Journal, ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel analyzes recent actions taken by the New York State legislature in the wake of protests against police brutality and a growing awareness of systemic racism. Evaluating the potential impacts of the repeal of Section 50-a of the New York Civil Rights Law (shielding police disciplinary records from disclosure), the “chokehold ban,” the new right to record the police in public, the “Amy Cooper” law creating civil liability for the summoning of police in certain circumstances, and other actions, Maazel writes, “The New York State legislature has taken (mostly) positive action. But there is still much work to do.”
You can read the full article here.
ECBAWM and co-counsel the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a class-action lawsuit against the City of Louisville, Kentucky, its Mayor Greg Fischer, and several Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (“LMPD”) officials and officers to enjoin the LMPD from using military-grade crowd control weapons against peaceful protesters, and it seeks damages on behalf of several such protesters who have already been harmed by these brutish tactics.
After the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many other Black people who have died at the hands of police, people in Louisville joined in the wave of protests across the country to advocate for an end to racist and violent policing. In response to this courageous exercise of First Amendment rights, the LMPD attacked the peaceful crowds, indiscriminately firing at them with tear gas, pepper bullets, flash bangs, and other military-grade weapons designed for enemy combat. In some cases, officers fired live ammunition into the crowds, striking several protesters. When journalists attempted to document this unconstitutional use of force, officers tracked them down and sprayed them with more pepper bullets and beat them with batons.
“Louisville is using weapons of war against its own citizens,” said ECBAWM partner Sam Shapiro. “It is trying to silence peaceful protestors through unjustified arrests and trumped-up charges. Shockingly, its mayor and the leadership of the LMPD are endorsing this unconstitutional conduct. Our clients are committed to fighting back against these practices. They are bringing this case to make Louisville safe for all peaceful protestors.”
ECBAWM’s Earl S. Ward, O. Andrew F. Wilson, Sam Shapiro, and Andrew Jondahl, along with attorneys from the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky represent Plaintiffs.
In his article for The Appeal, “In This Moment of Reckoning Around Police Violence, Don’t Forget the Unseen Abuses of People Who Are Incarcerated,” our client Vernon Horn writes of his firsthand experiences being brutalized while in prison. Mr. Horn served 17 years for a crime he did not commit before being exonerated. We currently represent Mr. Horn in his civil lawsuit against the City of New Haven, three individual police officers, and a Connecticut firearms examiner based on conduct that we allege included fabrication and concealing of evidence leading to his wrongful conviction.
In “Seize the moment: 9 ways to curb police brutality and honor the memory of George Floyd,” ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel writes, “If we translate protests into policy and passion into action, we will honor the memory of George Floyd and begin to address this national problem. If we fail, the next George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or Kenneth Banks is just around the corner.” You can read the full article in USA Today.
ECBAWM, along with co-counsel, filed a Notice of Claim today on behalf of Sylvester and Iyunolu Osagie, the parents of 29-year-old Osaze Osagie, indicating their intent to sue the Pennsylvania State College Police Department (“SCPD”) and the officers who six months ago shot and killed their then 29-year-old son. Sylvester Osagie asked the police to help him find Osaze, so that he could secure treatment for his suicidal son who was suffering a serious mental health crisis. Instead of helping Osaze, an officer shot him three times in the back, killing him.
“The mental health processes in place failed our son. The police procedures also failed our son. And the officers who responded to our son’s apartment failed him as well. We are bringing this case to make sure Osaze is the last person to die under such circumstances,” said Sylvester Osagie.
“Osaze would still be alive today if the police had followed standard procedures for handling mental health emergencies. This tragic loss of life didn’t have to happen; Osaze Osagie did not have to die,” said ECBAWM partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr.
ECBAWM partners Andrew G. Celli, Jr. and Elizabeth Saylor represent the family along with Pennsylvania lawyers Andrew Shubin and Kathleen Yurchak.
“‘Osaze Osagie did not have to die.’ Family announces plans to sue State College police officers,” Centre Daily Times
“Osagie Family To Sue State College Police Department, Officers Involved In Son’s Shooting Death,” Onward State
“Osagies Announce Intent to Sue State College Police Over Son’s Death,” StateCollege.com
“Osagie family will sue State College Police Department, launch independent investigation,” Penn State Daily Collegian
Today, ECBAWM client Jazmine Headley filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of New York and its Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) peace officers and New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers who attacked and arrested her at the DeKalb Job Center on December 7, 2018. Simply because Ms. Headley was sitting on the floor waiting for her appointment, these officers brandished a taser in Ms. Headley’s face, forcibly yanked her one-year-old son from her arms, charged her with several crimes, and detained her on Rikers Island for days. Her experience is just one example of HRA security staff’s widespread abuse of New Yorkers who seek assistance with their public benefits.
Ms. Headley is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Katie Rosenfeld and Emma Freeman.
“Woman Whose Child Was Taken in Viral Arrest Video Sues New York City, NYPD,” New York Law Journal
“Jazmine Headley sues city over violent arrest at Brooklyn benefits office,” Politico
“Mom whose baby was ripped from her arms at benefits center sues city,” New York Post
“Mom Whose Baby Was Snatched In Social Services Office Sues City,” Patch
Juliet Dietrich—a disabled, 68-year-old former corrections officer—has filed suit against the City of New York and Department of Citywide Administrative Services Special Officer Charles Parker for false arrest and excessive force.
On August 6, 2018, Special Officer Parker pulled her from her car and arrested her over a perceived parking violation. Ms. Dietrich’s permit for her disability allowed her to use spaces designated for “any governmental agency.” Nonetheless, Special Officer Parker was angry that Ms. Dietrich was occupying a parking spot reserved for those associated with the Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. Apparently, an able-bodied member of the Borough President’s administration—David Johnson—had demanded that her car be moved. Special Officer Parker reached into the car, grabbed Ms. Dietrich by the arm, and yanked her from the vehicle onto the street. Special Officer Parker then arrested Ms. Dietrich on false charges. Ms. Dietrich had no record. But because of the defendants, she was held in custody for more than 12 hours and then forced to fight false charges against her for nine months. Ms. Dietrich’s case challenges this abuse of power on the doorstep of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall.
Ms. Dietrich is represented by ECBAWM attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Alanna Kaufman. An article about the case in the New York Daily News is available here.
On July 3, 2019, ECBAWM reached a $610,000 settlement in the case of Jane Doe, a 28-year old Bronx woman who was arrested and shackled by the NYPD when she was 40 weeks pregnant after she was arrested for a misdemeanor on February 7, 2018. NYPD officers and supervisors insisted on keeping Ms. Doe in shackles for approximately 30 hours, even while she was in active labor and during her post-partum recovery with her infant daughter at the hospital. The NYPD kept Ms. Doe shackled during her transport, labor, and post-partum delivery despite being repeatedly warned of the health risks and illegality by hospital doctors and staff.
As part of the settlement, Ms. Doe insisted that the NYPD also agree to amend its Patrol Guide to prevent its officers from ever violating the rights and safety of another woman through the unlawful use of shackles. “Because of Jane Doe’s bravery and determination in pursuing this case, the NYPD will now change its procedures to better protect pregnant women in the future,” said ECBAWM partner Katie Rosenfeld.
Ms. Doe is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Katie Rosenfeld and Ashok Chandran.
“She Was Forced to Give Birth in Handcuffs. Now Her Case Is Changing Police Rules,” New York Times
“Woman who was forced to give birth in handcuffs awarded $610,000 in New York City settlement,” USA Today
“City of New York pays $610,000 to a woman who was forced to give birth in handcuffs,” CNN
“Bronx Woman Who Was Shackled, Handcuffed When She Went Into Labor Was ‘Terrified for Herself and for Her Baby’,” Newsweek