Suit claims kids traumatized seeing parents beaten by Bridgeport cops
BRIDGEPORT — Two young children were traumatized as they watched their parents subjected to excessive force by city police officers, a lawsuit filed Friday claims.
The suit, filed in Superior Court, is more fallout from a case that has focused a spotlight on the city’s police force in recent weeks. A report by the city’s Office of Internal Affairs cited 17 officers for using excessive force and violating Police Department rules and regulations including not being truthful in connection with the case.
While Carmelo Mendez, his sister, Wanda Mendez, and their mother, Sara Mendez, all await the disposition of their criminal cases in connection with the chaotic bust up of a pre-Halloween party in 2017 by dozens of police officers, they have filed a lawsuit against some of the officers involved.
“The chaotic events that followed (the Oct. 21, 2017 incident) involved 46 police officers, unrestrained, gratuitous violence by numerous police officers and an utter failure by veteran and supervisory officers to deescalate the unconstitutional actions of other officers,” the lawsuit states.
It contends the minor plaintiffs, Carmelo Mendez’s 6-year-old son and 12-year-old niece, “witnessed their family, dressed in superhero costumes, being attacked and severely beaten by the police.”
Robert Berke, the lawyer representing the Mendez family, declined comment on the lawsuit. But Carmelo Mendez previously told Hearst Connecticut Media that his son and niece were greatly affected by what they saw.
“My son didn’t want to celebrate Halloween again after what happened,” he said.
City officials did not return calls for comment.
The suit does not claim specific money damages.
The lawsuit states that Carmelo Mendez videotaped dozens of officers as they swarmed the backyard of the family’s Colorado Avenue home.
The suit states that the video shows police aggressively pulling Sara Mendez down a flight of steps while handcuffed.
Officer Adam Szeps then violently strikes Carmelo Mendez and viciously throws him to the ground, the suit states. Carmelo Mendez was not resisting arrest when the suit states that Officer Paul Scillia punched and kicked Mendez while he was face down on the ground.
After Carmelo Mendez was face down on the ground, handcuffed and not resisting arrest, the suit states, Scillia punched Mendez several times and kicked him again. While Carmelo Mendez was lying on the ground, Officer Michael Stanitis then struck Mendez in the head several times with an unknown object causing bruising and distinct marks, the suit states.
After witnessing the arrests and assaults upon his family, the suit states the children had difficulty sleeping, is fearful of the police, and had difficulty concentrating in school.
“The defendants knew or should have known that their conduct would result in an unreasonable risk of causing emotional distress and that distress would result in illness or bodily harm,” the suit states.