PATERSON - City taxpayers may end up paying punitive damages in a police excessive force case that resulted in indictments against two cops earlier this year.
The alleged victim, Osamah Alsaidi, filed a 31-page federal civil rights lawsuit this week accusing the cops of assault and the city Police Department of negligence for not combating misconduct and for failing to provide its officers with proper training and supervision.
A store security video of the encounter - cited as evidence by the United States Attorney's Office in its charges against the cops - shows Alsaidi being struck by one of the officers more than a dozen times in what his lawyers are calling an unprovoked attack.
The indicted cops - Kevin Patino and Kendry Tineo-Restituyo - have been on paid leave for the past 18 months since their spring 2021 arrests by the FBI, officials said. Federal court records say the pending criminal case against them may go to trial next year.
The Alsaidi incident happened in December 2020 amid a separate federal probe that resulted in convictions of eight Paterson cops as well as promises by local officials that city police officers would be held accountable.
But Alsaidi's lawsuit asserted that Paterson officials failed to protect the public from police wrongdoing even in the aftermath of the other arrests.
"Paterson Police Department has a long and well-recognized history of failing to meaningfully investigate misconduct and to hold its police officers accountable," said the lawsuit, filed by Akram Alsaidi, an attorney who is not related to the alleged victim.
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"Paterson Police Department and its Police Chief and Police Director were aware, or should have been aware, of the shockingly high number of incidents involving force and excessive force by its Officers, and in particular the Defendants named herein, but were deliberately indifferent or took no action to rectify the obviously deficient training and supervision," the lawsuit said.
Tineo-Restituyo had been the target of five police Internal Affairs complaints and Patino two, before their incident with Alsaidi, Paterson Press reported in 2021. Patino had filed 15 use-of-force reports between 2018 and 2020, and Tineo-Restituyo filed eight.
The lawyer representing Tineo-Restituyo in the criminal case declined to comment on the lawsuit. Patino's lawyer could not be reached for comment.
Alsaidi's attorney acknowledged that the allegations in the lawsuit reflect in many ways the criminal charges federal authorities filed against Patino and Tineo.
The lawsuit said Tineo-Restituyo and Patino were in plainclothes investigating an unrelated matter when they confronted Alsaidi and parked their unmarked police vehicle in his path. The officers pushed Alsaidi against a parked truck and Patino struck him multiple times in the face and body, the lawsuit said.
Tineo-Restituyo then threw Alsaidi to the ground, and the officers hit him again, causing him to black out, the lawsuit said.
Alsaidi's civil complaint goes beyond the federal indictments by accusing a third Paterson officer, Bashir McKnight, of wrongdoing.
The lawsuit said McKnight drove Alsaidi from Paterson police headquarters to St. Joseph's University Medical Center, but then forced Alsaidi to leave the hospital before he could see a doctor. The complaint accused McKnight of punching Alsaidi near his police car, but away from the hospital's security camera.
McKnight has not been charged with any crimes in the case. He remains on active duty.
City officials have a policy of not commenting on pending litigation. Alsaidi's lawyer said his client deserves compensation for the pain and suffering the officers caused him. The complaint does not cite a specific amount of money that he is seeking in the lawsuit.
Lawyers familiar with the Alsaidi case said the alleged victim would benefit substantially in his lawsuit if Patino and Tineo end up being convicted in the criminal proceedings.
Joe Malinconico is editor of Paterson Press.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Paterson NJ police excessive force case new lawsuit