A Brooklyn man says a Suffolk police officer threatened to take him to a wooded area and beat him after a traffic stop, according to a lawsuit filed last Friday in U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit alleges Sandino Hazzard's civil rights were violated after an officer pulled him over in North Babylon a couple of years ago and falsely arrested him. In addition, police used excessive force when an unidentified officer allegedly "pushed, assaulted and strip searched" Hazzard, the suit states.
Hazzard, 30, was stopped by police because he was "a black man driving in Suffolk County," said his attorney, Amy Marion, of Garden City.
In an email, a spokesman for the department said, "The Suffolk County Police Department does not comment on pending litigation."
After detaining Hazzard, the officer drove him in a squad car to a wooded area and threatened him, Marion said, before driving him to the precinct, where he was "made to strip and stand naked in the jail cell."
"They drove him to a wooded area and said, 'You don't do this around here. This is what happens,' " Marion said. "He thought he was going to be beaten and killed. He was absolutely horrified."
Hazzard was suspended from his job after his arrest and incurred "mental anguish, emotional distress and injury," according to the suit. He's seeking a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages.
Hazzard was commuting from his job in Suffolk when he was stopped on the evening of Aug. 15, 2012, by Suffolk Officer Douglas Cortes at northbound Route 231 and Bay Shore Road in North Babylon, the suit says.
Hazzard asked Cortes why he was being pulled over, an inquiry that upset the officer, Marion said. Police alleged Hazzard had a broken taillight, which Hazzard's attorney denies.
Hazzard was arrested, charged with disorderly conduct and given a ticket for a defective brake light, the suit said. The charges were ultimately dismissed, the lawsuit said.
"The cops said he was talking back to them," said Marion. "There's nothing about that that's disorderly. He's just asserting his First Amendment right."
With Mark Harrington