A Bronx police precinct where detectives have been accused of terrorizing teens has cost the city at least $2.44 million in legal settlements in the past four years.
Records show that 16 lawsuits in which 42nd Precinct officers were accused of wrongful arrests or excessive force have been settled for $50,000 or more.
In one settlement, the city agreed to pay $1 million to Juan Ramirez, a Bronx printing pressman who was hospitalized after he said he was jolted with a Taser and kicked during a New Year’s Day arrest in 2012 over a broken mirror on a police car.
The settlement came last year after Ramirez’s lawyer showed several inaccuracies in the NYPD’s version of events — including a police report saying no physical force was used during his arrest.
Ramirez, 53, needed surgery on his spleen for internal bleeding and required two hospital stays for his injuries, which included bruised lungs and fractured ribs.
“They really hurt him,” Ramirez’s lawyer, Michael Braverman, said. “He recovered pretty well, but he was in the ICU for two weeks; that shouldn’t have happened.”
Last year, the city also reached a settlement with Jateik Reed, who was badly beaten by 42nd Precinct cops during his January 26, 2012, arrest.
A cell phone camera captured footage of officers kicking and striking Reed with a baton while he was on the ground. The city agreed to pay him $480,000.
“To this day, I have never watched that whole video,” said Reed’s mom, Schuan Reed. “After the first couple of hits, I can’t watch.”
Schuan, her two other sons and Jateik’s friend also got settlements from the city after they sued over their own wrongful arrests.
They had gone to the 42nd Precinct stationhouse to check on Jateik after his arrest. There, officers accused Schuan of slamming a gate after not being allowed to speak to a captain.
A heated exchange of words led officers to handcuff them. Schuan’s then-5-year-old son was taken into custody for two hours before he was released to the family.
The city paid $65,000 to Schuan, $30,000 to the 5-year-old and $9,500 to her other son, Jayshan Walker.
One of the arresting officers at the stationhouse was Detective David Terrell, whom Schuan accused of throwing Jayshan to the ground and stepping on his neck.
Terrell — who has been on modified duty since a domestic violence incident in the fall of 2016 — has been sued more than a dozen times in the past decade, records show.
Many of the lawsuits against Terrell were filed in the past year after the arrest of Pedro Hernandez, a Bronx teen who spent a year on Rikers Island because he could not afford his $250,000 bail.
Hernandez, 18, was charged with gun possession in the shooting of another teen. His case became a cause celebre, and in July, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group stepped in to cover his bail.
The Bronx district attorney’s office dropped most of the charges against Hernandez on September 6, 2017 after mounting inconsistencies and contradictions in the case.
John Scola, a lawyer who represents Hernandez in civil lawsuits against Terrell over a different arrest, said he has signed up 22 clients who say the detective or his colleagues falsely arrested them or intimidated them into identifying a suspect.
The allegations against Terrell and other officers in the 42nd Precinct spurred the Bronx district attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau to open an investigation into their conduct earlier this year.
Terrell has denied assaulting anyone in the Reed family’s lawsuit and the allegations in other lawsuits. In fact, he filed a notice of claim — the first step in suing the city — in September, alleging the city does not back up cops who are named in bogus lawsuits.
The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment about the 16 legal settlements involving the 42nd Precinct. The settlements involved lawsuits filed between 2012 and 2015.
The Bronx Daily obtained information about the settlements from the city controller’s office through a Freedom of Information Law request.
Of the 16 settled suits, only the one brought by Jateik Reed and his family involved Terrell. The rest involved other officers in the 42nd Precinct.
In the case of Ramirez, who suffered the lacerated spleen, he accused Lt. Archie Van Putten and another officer of false arrest and excessive force.
Ramirez said the chain of events began around 1:00 a.m. on January 1, 2012. He was in the hallway outside his Crotona Park apartment when officers approached him over a noise complaint.
Ramirez, who had been celebrating the New Year, was arrested after he refused the officers’ orders to leave the area. He was issued a summons at the stationhouse and released less than two hours later.
Ramirez testified at his deposition that as he left the stationhouse, he tripped and bumped into a police car.
He said two officers saw him but said nothing, and he started his walk home. Police later said Ramirez purposely broke a side-view mirror.
Ramirez said about 40 minutes later, when he reached 173rd St. and Southern Boulevard, a police car pulled up. He said Van Putten and Officer Gabriel Rodriguez jumped out, and one of the cops Tasered him.
Van Putten and Rodriguez testified they didn’t use a Taser but had to subdue Ramirez when he became combative and resisted arrest. Ramirez was charged with criminal mischief.
During his deposition, Van Putten said he later gave the arrest to an officer who was not at the scene. That officer wrote a police report saying no physical force was used and Ramirez was in good health.
“After it was typed up, did I review this? No, I didn’t. That was a failure on my part,” Van Putten testified.
In October 2012, Van Putten became the 42nd Precinct’s integrity control officer charged with overseeing disciplinary matters and ensuring cops do their jobs correctly.
He held the position until he resigned this past January after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for stealing time from the city. Bronx prosecutors said Putten had worked a second job at Yankee Stadium while claiming to do police shifts.
Gabriel Harvis, Jateik Reed’s civil rights attorney, said many of the cases he handles in Bronx involve police making bogus allegations during arrests.
“I’ve seen an above-average frequency of fabrications coming out of precincts in Bronx,” Harvis said.
Officers charged Jateik with possession of marijuana and cocaine, accusing him of holding a bag of drugs.
“Surveillance video showed that was completely untrue,” Harvis said.