Testimony began Monday in a federal lawsuit involving a Queens man who alleges he was beaten by Suffolk County sheriff's deputies while in custody nearly five years ago.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on behalf of Perrim Anderson, 43, seeks $26 million in damages. He is suing Suffolk County, the Suffolk Sheriff's Office, the Suffolk Correctional Facility and deputies Joseph Walker, Vincent Aparicio and Maria McAuley.
Assistant Suffolk County Attorney Arlene S. Zwelling refuted the allegations saying deputies were forced to handcuff Anderson after he verbally challenged them.
In his opening argument, Hempstead attorney Frederick Brewington, representing Anderson, told a jury that on May 29, 2008, Anderson was beaten at the Central Islip detention center as he awaited a court appearance on an outstanding warrant. The reason, the attorney said: Anderson verbally challenged a deputy.
Anderson's record shows a guilty plea in a 1997 felony drug case and misdemeanor arrests in 2007 and 2009, none in Suffolk County. So when he was arrested in 2008 on an outstanding harassment warrant involving a former girlfriend, his request to wear socks to his cell at the Central Islip detention center was rejected by Aparicio, who told him he should know the procedure because he'd been there before. The lawsuit claims Anderson replied, "No, actually I have never been here, sir."
That, Brewington told jurors, is what prompted a series of events that led officers to take Anderson from his cell and kick and beat him. He said Anderson was not handcuffed at the time and did not fight back.
Jurors heard testimony from a witness also detained in Anderson's jail cell. The witness, Hashef Borden, said Aparicio called Anderson to the gate of the cell, they talked and then he saw Aparicio put his gloves on and take Anderson out.
"I didn't see but I heard. I heard screaming and yelling," Borden testified. When Anderson returned, "his face was basically destroyed," he testified.
McAuley also testified. She is accused in the lawsuit of kicking Anderson in the lower back while he was on the floor after yelling, "Look, he's not fighting back."
McAuley told jurors she arrived to find Anderson already on the floor, and denied she ever said he was not fighting back.
During the proceedings, U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert scolded Assistant Suffolk County Attorney Arlene S. Zwelling after the attorney tried to bring up Anderson's past brushes with the law in Nassau, which had been ruled out of bounds by the judge.
After clearing jurors from the courtroom during a five-minute recess, Seybert said, "I'm stunned. You are not an amateur. . . . This is not your first trial."