October 27, 2014

Bronx Native Jose LaSalle Suing NYPD For $500,000

Jose LaSalle (r.) and Steve Cruz stand in front of the 46th Precinct in the Bronx.

A Bronx man who runs a police watchdog group claims he was roughed up for exercising his right to videotape.

Jose LaSalle, 44, claims in paperwork filed with the city controller’s office that cops grabbed his camera, threw him up against a fence, cuffed and strip-searched him, then hit him with a summons for jaywalking in September.

Now, he’s planning to strike back with a $500,000 suit against the city, the NYPD and the cops, according to the filing, obtained by the Daily News.

LaSalle, who works for the city’s Parks Department, regularly walks the beat in West Bronx wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words “CPU,” Copwatch Patrol Unit, on the back. His goal is to make sure cops aren’t abusing citizens.

The confrontation that left him bruised began around 12:20 a.m. on Sept. 28 near W. 183rd St. and Tiebout Ave., when a cop shined a flashlight in his face, LaSalle alleges.

LaSalle approached the three officers while recording with his Samsung 5 and asked them for their badge numbers, he said. He even recited the section of the NYPD patrol guide requiring them to provide the information, he said.

In turn, the officers demanded his identification. He asked what he had done wrong and why they needed his ID, he said.

“So one grabs one arm and the other grabs the other arm,” he recalled. “My face slams against the gate. I felt something snap in my shoulder.”

He didn’t struggle and let the officers take his phone and put him in cuffs, he said.

“We got you motherf-----, now you’re going to jail for assaulting an officer,” one of the officers said, according to the paperwork filed last week.

“You thought we weren’t going to get you,” one of them said, according to LaSalle.

LaSalle told a sergeant that he had been assaulted by the cops and that he needed medical attention for his shoulder. Instead, he was taken to a back room of the station on Ryer Ave. and strip-searched, he claims.

He spent four hours in a holding cell and was never read his rights, he claims. He was not criminally charged and was released with tickets for jaywalking and possession of a scanner.

“I’m well-known so it’s amazing for them to go after me,” he said on a recent walk past the 46th Precinct station house, where he was held.

He said he wants to make sure other people don't have to suffer the same abuse that left him in the hospital for two days with scrapes and bruises and a sprained shoulder.

He still hasn’t gotten back the phone he was using to film, but has picked up a new Sony video camera that he now uses to catalogue cop behavior in his neighborhood.

Lasalle, who started the group in 2011, said he was happy to hear NYPD Commissioner Bratton say he was going after cops who were bad apples — but he plans to continue rolling.

“These are the eyes that don’t lie,” he said, gesturing to his camera. “We want these officers to know that if the system doesn’t hold them responsible, we will make sure that we blast them all over social media.”

Bratton issued a memo in the wake of the viral video of the killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island that it is legal for cops to be filmed while on duty.