An attorney for a retired Nassau correction officer on Thursday asked the Village of Garden City to release the names of two police officers who allegedly beat his client in November after, the former jail guard said, they mistook him for a suspected shoplifter.
Frederick Brewington, the attorney representing Ronald Lanier, 53, of Mineola, first asked for the officers’ names on Dec. 1, a day after Lanier, an African-American, said the white officers beat him, threw him to the ground and handcuffed him.
Brewington has made the same request at least three more times since the Nov. 30, 2016, incident, which prompted black law enforcement groups to rally in support of Lanier.
“There is no legal reason and no rational basis for you and your clients to continue to deprive our office of the names of these two officers,” Brewington wrote in a Jan. 26 letter that was delivered to Bee Ready Fishbein Hatter & Donovan, the Mineola-based law firm representing the village.
The police had been chasing a suspected thief, an African-American man, who ran into a Western Beef supermarket in Mineola where Lanier happened to be shopping when the officers ran into him. That man was later arrested.
Brewington said he plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the village and its police department for false arrest, excessive force and abuse of authority.
“He [Lanier] was selected because of his race,” Brewington said.
Andrew Preston, an attorney for the village, on Thursday said his firm does not comment on potential or impending lawsuits.
But in written responses to Brewington’s demands, Preston said the village has no obligation to disclose the officers’ names at this time and will wait until Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas’ office completes its probe into the incident.
“These records will only be released upon completion of the investigation currently being conducted by the Office of the District Attorney,” Preston said in a Dec. 14 letter.
On Nov. 30, 2016, Lanier was shopping for cooking oil at the Western Beef supermarket in Mineola, near where he lives, when two white officers approached him from behind and ordered him to put his hands behind his back.
Lanier, who said he complied, asked the officers what was going on, then told them, “I am on the job” — meaning that he identified himself as being a law enforcement officer.
The officers, Lanier said, didn’t appear to believe him. Instead, he said, they mocked him and punched him in the head and body while he was held on the ground. The beating only stopped, Lanier said, after he urged fellow shoppers to record the incident on their smartphones.
Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for Singas, declined to comment on whether her office is investigating Lanier’s allegations.