A Brooklyn jury has awarded former N.Y.C. Corrections Department chaplain Christopher Graham (pictured left of center)$4 million in damages, after an officer broke his leg, the New York Daily News reports.
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Officers received a 911 call to Graham’s Crown Heights apartment in September 2010. The Mother of Graham’s three children alleged that Graham hit her with the butt of his machete during an argument (Graham denies this).
Graham claims that as soon as the officers arrived, they began attacking him, “They pulled [my] hat off my head and pulled dreadlocks out of my head,” he said. “They slammed me to the floor and held me down. One of them was stepping on my neck and my face. The other one was trying to break my leg.”
Officer Paul Aparo would succeed in his efforts, Graham claims, when “he was turning my leg, left and right. I was screaming and banging on the floor. Then I heard a snap.”
The attack didn’t stop there, though, Graham says. “Even after my leg breaks, they were still beating my a–,” he added. The officers soon took Graham to the 77th Precinct, where they saw his ID card hanging around his neck.
“Then everything changed,” he said. “They thought I was some thug, but now I’m a state chaplain. I knew from the minute this happened I would sue because I know who I am. I did not do anything.”
A judge dropped Graham’s charges, including menacing, criminal obsession of a weapon, resisting arrest, and harassment, according to attorney Raymond Gazer (pictured right of Graham).
During a short trial this month, a jury needed only 50 minutes to rule in Graham’s favor and award him $3.95 million in compensatory damages.
Gazer says the officers’ stories were contradictory: they said Graham’s broken leg occurred because he was flailing but then they said the injury came from his girlfriend kicking him down a stairwell while he was handcuffed.
As a result of his injuries, Graham needed surgery on his fractured left tibia and fibula. He now suffers from post-traumatic arthritis.
The city plans on “evaluating all of our options for challenging the verdict,” said Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the N.Y.C. Law Department.
“We review, in a variety of ways, all allegations of officer misconduct,” added NYPD Deputy Chief Kim Royster. “A [verdict in] a civil case does not constitute a finding or even evidence that an officer has engaged in any misconduct.”
Aparo was previously investigated by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau for allegedly having footage erased from a Brooklyn bar brawl he was involved in earlier that year.
Investigators did not discipline Aparo, however, because they could not prove their allegation.