Montgomery County and the city of Amsterdam are targets of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit alleging police accidentally tackled and handcuffed two people who weren’t supposed to be arrested.
Kristi M. Harrison and Julio V. Morales are seeking $3.75 million in damages, alleging false arrest and excessive use of force.
The allegations stem from a Feb. 13 raid at 9 Bayard St., in Amsterdam’s Third Ward.
According to the complaint, filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, police kicked in the door and burst into the apartment wearing masks and carrying guns.
“[Police] grabbed and threw the plaintiffs to the floor and bound their hands behind their backs for over 20 minutes,” the complaint states.
Neither Harrison nor Morales could be reached for comment Tuesday, and no one answered the door at the scene of the raid. Their attorney, John D. Dunne of Fort Johnson, said attempts to resolve his clients’ complaint with the city were unsuccessful.
“My clients and myself have a great deal of respect for the jobs that the city’s police officers do and generally they do a wonderful job,” he said. “But sometimes, good men and women can make terrible mistakes.”
The complaint says the pair told police they had the wrong place and “they were laughed at” by the officers.
Several days later, they were “visited by a member of the Amsterdam Police Department who admitted that the officers had misidentified and entered into the wrong apartment,” the complaint states.
Dunne said neither Harrison nor Morales were doing anything illegal before police rushed into their residence.
“My clients were justifiably very disturbed at this incident,” he said.
The lawsuit alleges the pair suffered damage to their apartment door and unspecified physical injuries in addition to “shame, humiliation and degradation.” It also says Morales has a pre-existing injury that was worsened during the arrest.
The Amsterdam Police Department in February announced five arrests stemming from Feb. 13 raids, which netted more than 1.5 pounds of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, guns and $8,700 in cash. Police at the time named Orestes Andino, 43, as one of those arrested and reported his address as 9 Bayard St. He was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.
The large, two-story house appears to have at least two apartments.
Detective Lt. Kurt Conroy, an Amsterdam police spokesman, declined to comment on the case and Montgomery County Attorney Doug Landon said the county has not yet been served with the suit. Amsterdam Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis also declined comment Tuesday.
The lawsuit alleges false arrest, illegal search and seizure, excessive use of force, battery and negligence, and asks the court to award the pair $750,000 for each of five causes of action.