SCHENECTADY — A city man whose arrest two years ago sparked controversy and led to a number of protests after a video surfaced showing a police officer kneeling in the area of his head and neck just weeks after the murder of George Floyd is now suing the city.
Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud filed a lawsuit against the city, Schenectady Police Department and Patrol Officer Brian Pommer on Jan. 27 in Schenectady County Supreme Court seeking damages stemming from his arrest on July 6, 2020 outside his home on Brandywine Avenue.
The lawsuit, first reported by the Times Union, has since been moved to U.S. District Court in Albany.
Video of the incident showing Gaindarpersaud fleeing Pommer when the officer questioned him about slashing his neighbor’s tires surfaced days later. The video showed Pommer kneeling on the head and neck area of Gaindarpersaud and striking him several times in the ribs as he attempted to detain him.
Gainderpersaud claims to have “suffered physical, emotional and reputational injuries” as a result of his arrest and is suing for excessive force, false arrest, assault and battery and negligent hiring, supervision and training, according to the lawsuit.
The incident inflamed tensions between the police department and Black Lives Matter activists in the wake of Floyd’s death, and led to a number of protests throughout that summer.
A report released by the Schenectady County district Attorney’s Office concluded that the officer was kneeling on Gainderpersaud’s head. The report also found that Pommer’s actions weren’t criminal, but that the officer should have engaged in a more thorough investigation before approaching Gainderpersaud.
The report found that both men made “unhelpful assumptions and mistakes,” which contributed to a “chaotic situation” that endangered their safety and that of nearby citizens.
A resolution agreement signed by the county district Attorney’s Office, Gaindarpersuad and his attorney Derek Andrews, agreed upon a list of 13 baseline concepts that would “promote better understanding and cooperation between our citizens and the police officers assigned to serve and protect them.”
Gaindarpersuad also acknowledged he “should have complied with the officer’s orders to submit to being detained and handcuffed, should not have run and should not have continued to resist handcuffing once the officer caught him” as part of the resolution.
Andrews, who is representing Gaindarpersuad in the lawsuit, did not return a request seeking comment Monday.
Pommer was suspended for six days and ordered to complete additional training, and charges filed against Gainderpersaud, including criminal mischief and resisting arrest, were ultimately dropped.
“Defendant Brian Pommer’s grabbing and slamming of Plaintiff caused him to make forceful impact on the concrete pad, coupled with the subsequent punching and placement of his knee on Plaintiff’s neck, violated plaintiff’s constitutional right to be free from excessive force under the Fourth Amendment,” the lawsuit reads.
Pommer and the city have denied any claims filed in the lawsuit in responses filed by their attorneys.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.