SCHENECTADY — The City Council on Monday approved a $40,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by a man whose interaction with a city police officer two years ago sparked widespread tensions in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd.
Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud filed a federal lawsuit against the city, the Schenectady Police Department and Patrol Officer Brian Pommer in January, following his July 6, 2020 arrest outside his Brandywine Avenue home.
Video of the incident surfaced days later showing Gaindarpersaud fleeing from Pommer when the officer questioned him about an alleged property involving a neighbor. The officer can be seen kneeling on the head and neck area of Gaindarpersuad while striking him several times in the ribs while attempting to make an arrest.
Gaindarpersaud claims to have “suffered physical, emotional and reputational injuries” as a result of the arrest, and sued for excessive force, false arrest, assault and battery, and negligent hiring, supervision and training, according to the lawsuit.
The incident sparked widespread outrage and prompted a number of protests against police brutality and systemic racism less than two months after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
An investigation by Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney later found that Pommer’s actions weren’t criminal, but concluded the officer should have engaged in more thorough investigation before approaching Gainderpersaud. Charges against Gainderpersaud were also dropped.
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.
Exact terms of the settlement remain unclear.
A lawyer for Gaindarpersaud, Dennis Neve, confirmed only that a settlement had been reached but declined to comment any further.
“We have come to an agreement with the city, as long as they approve it,” Neve said in an email. “We have no other comment at this time.”
The city’s Corporation Counsel Andrew Koldin declined to comment on the settlement due to the fact it has yet to be finalized. He anticipated that the matter would likely be settled later in the week.
“Until then, I’m not going to comment,” he said.
Koldin, however, did note that the city would be responsible for paying the entirety of the settlement due to a $100,000 deductible.
The settlement comes two months after the City Council approved a $500,000 settlement to settle a false arrest lawsuit filed by a city couple in 2018.
In 2019, the City Council approved a $1.3 million agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by the widow of Andrew Kearse, who died in police custody in 2017. Kearse had become unresponsive while being transported to the police station and informing the officer he couldn’t breathe and called out for help dozens of times.
Sgt. Matthew Dearing, a city police spokesman, referred comment to Koldin.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said he was glad the city could put the incident in its rearview mirror.
Asked about the pair of settlement agreements approved by the City Council this year, McCarthy said both were manageable.
“It’s the nature of policing and public safety and municipal services,” he said. “I’ve been around for when the settlements were significant. These are well within our ability to budget.”
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.