ECBAWM Reaches $400,000 Settlement for Federal Lawsuit Brought by Healthcare Worker Assaulted at George Floyd Protest by NYPD Officers, Including Current NYPD Deputy Commissioner

  • May 24, 2024

New York, NY – Ernesto Lopez, a respiratory therapist from Washington State who came to New York at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide essential medical care, has settled a civil rights lawsuit against the City of New York and a group of NYPD officers who baselessly arrested and assaulted him at a protest of the police murder of George Floyd in Brooklyn.

The lawsuit alleged that NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Tarik Sheppard, the recent spokesperson for the NYPD during the Columbia University protests, but then an NYPD Captain, threw a woman to the ground for no reason, then ordered Mr. Lopez’s arrest because he filmed the assault with his cell phone and said “hey.” In response to Sheppard’s arrest order, a group of NYPD officers struck Mr. Lopez on the back of the head with a baton and violently tackled him to the ground. At the time of this attack, Mr. Lopez was peacefully standing and filming the scene without threatening anyone or interfering with any police activity.

Mr. Lopez spent several hours in a holding cell at Brooklyn Central Booking following his arrest. The assault left Mr. Lopez with cuts and bruises across his face and neck as well as wrist and shoulder injuries that required months of medical treatment. Mr. Lopez’s arrest and assault took place on the very last night of his six-week stay in New York City providing life-saving care.

“My daughters wished me well and asked that I be safe as I embarked on my COVID-19 assignment in Manhattan in May 2020. They had no idea that the NYPD, not COVID, was going to harm me. I hope this case sparks change in the way the NYPD treats innocent, law-abiding citizens protesting peacefully,” said Mr. Lopez.

“It is remarkable that the NYPD promoted Tarik Sheppard to be a Deputy Commissioner,” said Ilann M. Maazel, Partner at ECBAWM for Mr. Lopez. “Look at the video. The NYPD should demote him, not promote him.”

“Mr. Lopez came to New York City’s aid in our time of need. The NYPD thanked him with a brutal assault and an unjustified arrest,” said Max Selver, an associate at ECBAWM. “We are gratified that Mr. Lopez has been compensated for this clear wrong.”

ECBAWM attorneys Ilann M. Maazel and Max Selver represent Mr. Lopez.