In 2010, Randolph McNeil was 30 years old. He was working nights and staying home days taking care of his daughter while his girlfriend worked regular hours. One evening when his girlfriend got home from work, he left the apartment to get some snacks and a beer to bring back home before he went to work.
As he was about to leave the bodega, three cops barged in. They asked Randolph to come outside, and he did. They asked him for id, and he complied. They forced him up against the wall, and began to invasively search him. He turns his head and demanded to know what was going on. The police, angry at this perceived challenge to their authority, roughly began to handcuff him and place him under arrest.
If you think NYPD adequately trains its police officers on making forcible arrests, think again. While Randolph is standing still, the three cops don’t seem to realize that they are working against each other, pushing back and forth while Randolph offers no resistance. As this police melee continues, with Randolph in the middle, one, Sgt. James Cuesta, falls down and injures his knee.
The other two cops lose total control, and a beating and pepper spraying ensues. He’s searched and they find nothing. Randolph is charged with having an open container of beer in public, marijuana possession, and of course, the obligatory resisting arrest and assault on an officer. All untrue.
The marijuana, the police said, was thrown by Randolph through a fraction of an inch crack in the metal base of a nearby abandoned pay phone while he was fighting his epic battle with the cops. NYPD’s ESU was called to pry open the base of the pay phone. They arrived almost immediately. The arresting officers, however, sent them away. You see, a fellow officer hadn’t yet arrived with the dime bag that they were going to put into the pay phone for ESU to find. Finally, the cop arrives with the weed, deposits the drugs in the base of the payphone and minutes later it’s “found” and the cops charge McNeil with possession.
After some time in the system, the Grand Jury dismissed all charges, realizing the cops had planted the drugs on McNeil. We represented him in a civil rights case against these cops and the City. After the cops lies unraveled in depositions, the case settled favorably for Mr. McNeil. Officers Lawrence Perrotta and Jeremy Bloom are, as far as we know, still roving city streets no doubt menacing other hapless civilians. Sgt. Cuesta retired with benefits because of his knee.
And oh, smelling an opportunity for a few bucks after the case settled, Sgt. Cuesta turned around and sued Randolph McNeil! Showing a similar incompetence in legal matters as he showed on the streets, he filed his lawsuit too late. He won’t get a penny.