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Gay Man Sues NYPD For Allegedly Beating Him During Asthma Attack

by Jeff Taylor September 01, 2016

NYPD. Photo via RJ on Flickr, CC 2.0.

A gay Staten Island man has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD, alleging that a police officer beat him while taunting him with antigay slurs.

James Rolkiewicz says that one night in September 2015, he was walking through the West Village when he began having an asthma attack, causing him to sit on the steps of Greenwich House Music to find his inhaler.

Related: Gay Man Fired By Catholic Diocese Files Federal Lawsuit

Two police officers approached Rolkiewicz as he was searching for the apparatus.

One of the offices “repeatedly called him ‘a f—ing f—-t’ while demanding his identification, while plaintiff was having an asthma attack,” the lawsuit states.

It then claims the officer “repeatedly smashed his face and head into the hood of the NYPD patrol car,” while the other officer stood by and did nothing.

“He specifically made that a point,” Rolkiewicz said of his sexual orientation, “because he kept calling me a ‘f—ing f—-t,’ the New York Daily News reports.

“If you have this problem with gay people, how are you an officer in the Village?” he asked.

Related: Brooklyn Man Says Cops Beat Him At Pride Party, Kept Harassing Him

Rolkiewicz was not far from the Stonewall Inn at the time of the incident. The Stonewall Riots against police harassment and abuse helped kick off the modern LGBTQ rights movement and was recently named a national monument.

He was “brutally handled, punched, kicked, abusively treated, placed in a chokehold, handcuffed and choked until he lost consciousness,” according to the filing. It adds that he was not read his rights or told why he was being arrested.

He was in police custody for two days, including time he spent in hospital for his injuries.

“He was damaged, he was violated, he was brutalized — he did nothing,” said Pamela Roth, his lawyer.

Related: Gay Man Says NYPD Broke His Ribs, Called Him A F*ggot At Pride

Rolkiewicz’s court-appointed attorney encouraged him to plead guilty to a disorderly conduct violation and take time served, or else be prosecuted for assault on a police officer. He took her advice.

Rolkiewicz is seeking a total of $6 million from the cops and city.

The NYPD referred comment to the city Law Department, which said they were reviewing the complaint.

Related: What It’s Like To Be A Transgender Cop Coming Out To 1,800 Officers

“I don’t go to the Village anymore, period,” said Rolkiewicz. “I’m afraid he’s going to either beat me up again or he might see me and do something to me.”

Jeff Taylor
Jeff Taylor


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