A Staten Island man said yesterday he plans on suing the NYPD, the city and four officers who he said brutally beat him and hurled anti-gay slurs at him after responding to a noise complaint call in June.
Louis Falcone, 30, said he was inside his Midland Beach home at about 5:30 a.m. on June 19 when the officers came by. Falcone, who is openly gay, said he had gotten into an argument with his brother, Scott, who came home drunk about an hour before.
Falcone said they screamed and yelled at each other and someone called 911. But by the time police arrived, his brother had left.
"They said come outside now. And then my dog started barking, my pup, he started barking and the cop said, 'Shut that dog up or I'll kill it,'" Falcone said, speaking at his attorney's office yesterday, adding that the officers then yanked him out of his home and onto the ground. "They picked me up and threw me, body slammed me into the grass in front of the house and that's when they started piling on top of me."
Falcone, who works as a cook, said the police then beat him, standing on his already injured foot, stomping on his head and pushing his face into the dirt. A cellphone video taken by a neighbor across the street captured the encounter.
His mother, Catherine, was standing in the doorway, screaming. At one point in the video Falcone can be heard screaming for someone to call 911.
"I had mud all over my face and blood gushing from my nose and my mouth," he said. "At that point I tried to clear my airway, spit some mud out. And that's when the officer said, 'Don't get it on you, the (gay slur) probably has AIDS.'"
A spokesman for the police department said the incident has been referred to the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The spokesman said Falcone's mother called 911 that night when her sons were fighting.
"When police arrived they determined that Falcone was punched in the face by his brother who fled the scene," the spokesman said in an email. "Falcone was acting irrational and spit in a (police officer's) face while he was being taken into custody."
Falcone denies spitting in an officer's face. He said was not charged with any crimes, and said he remembers waking up in Staten Island University Hospital North. He said he does not know who called for an ambulance.
Falcone said he spent 14 to 15 hours in the hospital. His attorney, Eric Subin, said Falcone suffered a broken nose, bruising on his head and his body, may need spinal surgery as well as foot surgery, will need to undergo additional MRI's, and is seeing a pain management doctor.
"I'm disturbed. I'm disturbed as a person, as a gay man, as a human being to see this happen to somebody, even if it wasn't me," he said. "I've always supported the NYPD, I have friends who are officers. After this I feel like I've lost faith in them, I really have. I don't feel safe on these streets, especially with these guys thinking they can do whatever they want."
Subin said he will file a suit in the U.S. Eastern District Court for $25 million, for police brutality, excessive force and a violation of Falcone's civil rights. Subin said he will also seek punitive damages from the individual officers when he learns their names. "They had no justification for using any force, let alone dragging a man out of his home, smashing him onto the concrete and then dog piling on top of him," Subin said. "I think they were probably just bullies with badges and guns who showed up early in the morning responding to a noise complaint, didn't like the person they found at the door, and overreacted in sort of an overly aggressions manner."