Brian Garcia leaves federal court in Central Islip on Wednesday followed...

Brian Garcia leaves federal court in Central Islip on Wednesday followed by his attorney, Fred Brewington. Credit: James Carbone

The federal trial in the lawsuit filed by a Commack man who said Suffolk police violated his constitutional rights by strip-searching him on the shoulder of the Sunken Meadow Parkway ended with a hung jury.

The jury deliberated for nearly three days before telling U.S. Magistrate Judge Lee G. Dunst on Wednesday it could not reach a unanimous verdict. Plaintiff Brian Garcia — who said Suffolk officers humiliated him by handcuffing him and pulling down his pants during the May 2016 traffic stop — will seek another trial in the case, his attorney, Frederick Brewington of Hempstead, said.

Garcia named officers David Young, David Ferrara, Det. Arthur Rall and Det. Timothy Zorn as defendants in the lawsuit filed in June 2018. Det. James Stapleton, originally named as a defendant, died in 2021.

“There were no eyewitnesses except for Mr. Garcia and these four officers got on the stand and told their story,” Brewington said. “Some jurors did not believe them. This shows the need for an independent review board, where citizens and not cops can make these evaluations. The officers’ story did not make sense, so they will have to face another trial and that is a victory for Brian Garcia.”

Representatives of Suffolk County and Suffolk police declined to comment Wednesday. Representatives of Suffolk County Detectives Association could not be immediately reached for comment.

Lou Civello, Suffolk PBA president said in a statement that if police had body cameras back when the incident took place "our officers would have been fully exonerated. Instead, we are left with a hung jury ... the constant vilification of law enforcement" poisons juries.

Suffolk police illegally stopped Garcia — the son of a retired NYPD detective — on the evening of May 20, 2016, despite no evidence he had committed any crime, Brewington said. The officers pulled over Garcia’s Nissan Pathfinder after spotting him at the home of an acquaintance in East Northport who was under surveillance for allegedly dealing drugs.

The officers made anti-Latino comments during the 45-minute stop on the busy highway and falsely asserted that Garcia was a gang member, the lawsuit argued. They used flashlights to check his private parts and shook his body to see if anything would fall out.

A lawyer representing the officers challenged Garcia’s account of the nearly eight-year-old traffic stop, saying Garcia was never handcuffed and had given the officers consent to search him and his car. Stacy Skorupa, of Suffolk County’s Department of Law, told the jury during her opening statement that police found an open container of beer in Garcia’s vehicle and the remnants of a marijuana cigarette.

The officers conducted a sobriety check and let Garcia go without issuing a summons after determining he was not impaired, Skorupa said. Their lenience was repaid, she said, with a lawsuit.

Brewington said Garcia did not get the verdict he wanted.

But the trial, he said, gave “a young Hispanic man the chance to tell his story, a story a lot of other impacted young men have not had the opportunity to tell.”

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