The brother of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero, who was killed in a 2008 hate crime in Patchogue, and a community advocate Wednesday called on a federal judge to allow a lawsuit against Suffolk County and its police force to proceed despite a procedural error.
The $40 million civil suit against the county, police department and 10 unnamed police officers may be in jeopardy because a process server never delivered a summons and complaint to the defendants as required.
A U.S. magistrate judge assigned to review the case after the issue surfaced last month determined that the papers may have been delivered to the wrong building.
But Joselo Lucero and advocate Fernando Mateo said during a news conference outside U.S. District Court in Central Islip that the civil rights claims in the case should matter more than "a simple mistake."
They called on U.S. District Judge Leonard D. Wexler to think of the Lucero family's loss and the concerns of other Latino immigrants.
"We are hoping that this is a nonissue," said Mateo, president of White Plains-based Hispanics Across America. "It's up to the judge to have compassion, to know that the Lucero family was a victim; that a brother, a son . . . was murdered viciously."
Lucero was walking with a friend when he was attacked by seven teenagers looking to assault Hispanic immigrants in November 2008. One of them stabbed Lucero, killing him.
The lawsuit claims that the county and its police failed to protect Hispanic immigrants amid a growing climate of hate.
"I want my brother to have a case," said Joselo Lucero, 37. "It's not about money. My brother's life, or any life of any immigrant, they don't cost money. . . . It's about a statement to prevent such a hate crime in Suffolk County."