City settles Occupy 'sucker punch' case

Felix Rivera-Pitre, left, was punched by an NYPD

Felix Rivera-Pitre, left, was punched by an NYPD deputy inspector during an OWS protest. (Handout) (Credit: Handout screen grab)

New York City agreed Thursday to pay a $55,000 settlement to an Occupy Wall Street demonstrator who claimed he was "sucker punched" by an NYPD inspector in an incident that became an Internet video sensation.

In his complaint in federal court in Manhattan, demonstrator Felix Rivera-Pitre charged that Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona punched him in the head and knocked him out without provocation during a march on Oct. 14, 2011.

The settlement covers claims against both the city and Cardona, and contains language indicating that it doesn't constitute an admission of wrongdoing. Rivera-Pitre's lawyer, Ron Kuby, said the amount will also cover any attorney fees.

"Fifty-five thousand dollars for a sucker punch is a decent settlement, but until the city controls its brutal cops, the taxpayers are the real suckers," said Kuby, a longtime critic of the NYPD's tactics during the demonstrations.

Earlier this month, protester Sade Adona settled an excessive force and wrongful arrest suit against the city for $25,000, plus $35,000 in legal fees. The case was handled by students in a Hofstra Law School clinical program.

Altogether, the city's law department said the Cardona case was one of about seven Occupy Wall Street settlements that have been agreed to for a total of $260,000. A city attorney called it an "appropriate resolution."

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance decided a few months ago not to file charges against Cardona over the videotaped punch.

"The DA didn't find a case because the DA didn't want to find a case," Kuby charged Thursday.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Follow Newsday on social media

advertisement | advertise on newsday