NJ teen suing after alleged beat-down by undercover cops
PATERSON— A high school student has filed a lawsuit against the city after claiming five undercover cops severely beat him and violated his rights.
Larry Martinez, 17, alleges that while he was parking his car on Jan. 15 around 10 p.m., five city police officers exited a black SUV and demanded that the John F. Kennedy student step out of his vehicle. After leaving his car, one officer sucker-punched Martinez in his left eye, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Passaic County Superior Court.
Four other officers also began to "viciously beat Martinez with blows to the face and body" and screamed "go to sleep" and "he doesn't give up," while trying to force the teenager to lose consciousness, the suit claims.
Martinez thought the cops, who did not show a badge or warrant, were thieves attempting to steal his car.
The five cops then arrested Martinez, searched his car without a warrant or probable cause, and failed to read Martinez his Miranda rights before questioning him about his age and drug use, according to the complaint.
After checking Martinez's ID and seeing his age, the officers took his keys from his pocket and went to Martinez's nearby apartment, where they searched through his room attempting to find drugs, according to the suit. Officers at the apartment told Martinez's parents that their son was "caught using one of the worst drugs on the street" and had injured himself, though the two determined that Martinez was not under the influence when they arrived at the scene.
A uniformed officer and an ambulance then arrived at the scene where Martinez's car was parked, the complaint claims. Martinez told the EMT that he was assaulted by cops, but the EMT reported his injuries as accidental.
Three days after the incident, Martinez and his parents filed an internal affairs complaint with the Paterson Police Department against the officers.
Six weeks after filing a notice claim, which is the first step in the process of suing a public agency in the state, he was charged with obstructing a governmental function. All charges against Martinez were dropped Aug. 11, according to the suit.
The lawsuit states that Martinez, a part-time employee at Willowbrook Mall, has never been in trouble with the law or had disciplinary problems at school or taken illegal drugs. Martinez is represented by Ty Hyderally of Hyderally & Associates P.C.
The Paterson Police Department did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Acting Police Chief William Fraher and Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale are also named in the suit.