Diaz & Lewis v. City of New York, 08 Civ. 04391 (DC) (S.D.N.Y.)

Nature of Claims: Excessive force by jail staff. The complaint, filed in May 2008, alleges that Danique Lewis and William Diaz were each severely beaten by members of the Department of Correction’s Emergency Services Unit (“ESU”) in separate incidents during the summer of 2007. Each suffered very serious head trauma at the hands of ESU officers who have been involved in other incidents over the past several years in which inmates suffered serious injuries. Lewis, who was 19 at the time and is a slight, thin young man, was slammed face first into a wall and then kicked and punched in the face while lying on the floor, and dragged to the intake area, where he was struck in the face with a pair of steel handcuffs. He was transported by ambulance to Elmhurst, where two facial lacerations, one above each eye, were sutured, and was diagnosed with a concussion and facial lacerations. Several days later, he was returned to Bellevue because of acute confusion.

The complaint alleges that William Diaz walked past an ESU team, and one of the other prisoners with him laughed. Diaz was taken into an area not subject to video surveillance. His face was pushed very hard into a wall, and then he was struck in the face repeatedly. He fell to the floor, where he was kicked and struck in the head and face, and lost consciousness. He had bruising and tenderness above his right eye, a laceration to his left ear, bruising and tenderness to the back of his head and the back of his left shoulder, and tenderness to the back of his neck. In the next several days, he passed out several times and was at one point hospitalized.

The case was settled in February 2009 for $850,000.

Current status: Settled.

Reported decisions: None.