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2 men claim police attacks

December 15, 2017 GMT

Schenectady

A city resident who alleges he was attacked by a plainclothes city cop after being mistaken for a robbery suspect and a man who accuses police officers of beating him up and repeatedly using a Taser on him have filed separate legal actions against the city and police department.

On Thursday, Roger Brooks recounted the alleged police encounter on a cold September afternoon that began when he left his Bradley Street home to walk down the block to McClellan Street to pick up his grandchildren from the school bus.

As he stood in front of his son’s juice-bar store, the 50-year-old man said, he saw several police cars and officers who had blocked off much of the area.

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He said he heard the police radio transmission that they were looking for a robbery suspect wearing a gray hat, shirt and pants, which matched his clothing.

Not long after that, Brooks said, a “big cop” without saying a word grabbed his hand and threw him up against the back of a vehicle.

Brooks said he tried to defend himself until his son told him that they were cops.

He said another officer later placed a knee in the back of his neck while he was on the ground handcuffed.

When he was back on his feet, one of the officers ordered him to look in the direction of a police cruiser down the block and Brooks spotted the owner of a corner store that he frequents. Brooks said the store owner told police Brooks was not their suspect, but the officers still kept him shackled as they checked for outstanding warrants.

“They ran my name and they found that I didn’t have any warrants so they had to let me go,” Brooks said, adding that police apologized to him.

Brooks, who has 10 children and 25 grandchildren, faces no charges in connection with the altercation.

He said he is seeking $5,000 in Small Claims Court and looking for a lawyer.

“I want people to know that the Schenectady police are not perfect, they’re human just like we are, and they’re liable to make mistakes, but we hold them up to a higher standard,” Brooks said.

Police Chief Eric Clifford did not return a call seeking comment.

Brooks said the ordeal left him with an injury to his upper lip that required five stitches and bruised ribs that made it difficult to breathe normally and required him to only drink liquids for two weeks. He said the alleged attack re-injured an old shoulder injury for which he is now receiving therapy.

In the other case, Juwan Howard, 23, alleges in a notice of claim that he was standing in the front yard of his Schenectady Street home in August when he was “approached without warning, reason or justification” by two cops.

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Howard is seeking $2 million in monetary damages.

Filed last month, the claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, indicates one of the officers “forcibly grabbed him from behind and “tackled him to the ground.”

The document states the officers “continued to strike and physically assault him, including the repeated use of a Taser” while Howard “lay incapacitated and in the full custody and control of the officers.” The court filing does not detail the extent of his injuries.

The claim alleges the officers “filed false and misleading reports” accusing Howard of peddling drugs.

His attorney, Christopher Galiardo, did not return calls Thursday to his Manhattan office.

Carl Falotico, the city’s corporation counsel, declined Thursday to discuss the cases.

Howard was charged with four drug and two assault felony counts and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Last month, he pleaded guilty to criminal use of a drug paraphernalia in exchange for time served, according to a County Court clerk.

pnelson@timesunion.com • 518-454-5347 • @apaulnelson