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EXCLUSIVE: Man claims cops beat him over video: lawsuit

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Monday, November 23, 2015, 4:00 AM

In his attorney's office, Walter Avila of Harlem, N.Y., holds the the blood-stained clothing he wore when he was allegedly beaten by the New York City Police Department.Kathy Kmonicek/Kathy Kmonicek

In his attorney’s office, Walter Avila of Harlem, N.Y., holds the the blood-stained clothing he wore when he was allegedly beaten by the New York City Police Department.

He double-parked at an ATM and ended up doubled over in pain, the victim of a “sadistic” police beating led in part by an NYPD captain, a Harlem man claims in a new lawsuit.

Walter Avila says his beatdown started on a Manhattan street in January 2013 and continued at the 25th Precinct as coordinated revenge for his attempt to make a cell phone video of two officers issuing him a parking ticket.

“It was terrifying. I was bleeding. I was crying. I was asking them to stop. I was screaming for help,” the computer technician, 31, told the Daily News in an exclusive interview Friday.

In a complaint set to be filed Monday in Manhattan federal court, Avila claims he was withdrawing cash inside the vestibule of a Chase bank on 125th street when he noticed officers examining his 2012 Nissan Maxima SE double-parked outside.

Avila popped his head out to indicate he was steps away and watched as the cops appeared to nod in a friendly manner, the complaint obtained by The News states.

When he emerged moments later, Avila was surprised to find NYPD officers Robert Regent and Christopher Mitchell writing him a ticket, the filing states.

Avila says he sparked Regent’s anger when he whipped out his cell phone and started videotaping the interaction to show that his car was not blocking traffic.

Regent became “increasingly irate,” asking Avila if he planned to put the video on YouTube, the lawsuit states.

When Avila trained his camera on the officer’s badge, Regent allegedly grabbed him by the shirt, shoved him toward the car and began to reach for his gun, the complaint prepared by lawyer Andrew L. Hoffman states.

Mitchell then “blindsided” Avila with a punch to his right eye and beat and kicked him until he fell unconscious, the complaint states.

“The last thing Mr. Avila recalls before blacking out was the sound of his bones cracking as Regent wrenched his cell phone from his hands,” the filing alleges.

When Avila regained consciousness, he was handcuffed and driven to the parking lot of the 25th Precinct where a “swarm” of officers were waiting, the filing claims.

The group, allegedly led by NYPD Captain Marlon Larin, “ritualistically” formed a half-circle around the car, pulled Avila out and resumed the beating, the lawsuit states.

“The officers, including defendant Larin, then proceeded to take turns, spinning and shoving Mr. Avila, as others continued to punch him about the body,” the lawsuit claims.

Avila was taken by ambulance to Metropolitan Hospital for minor treatment then escorted to Central Booking where, according to the complaint, a male nurse rejected him saying he first needed more medical attention.

Police returned with Avila to the precinct, “elaborately shackled” him “in an apparent effort to make him appear as dangerous as possible” and walked him directly to a judge to bypass Central Booking, the lawsuit claims.

Avila was charged with assault and resisting arrest and released on his own recognizance.

Upon his release after 20 hours in custody, Avila went to Mt. Sinai Hospital for treatment of multiple injuries including a fractured hand that needed a cast, he said.

He now suffers from blurry vision, anxiety and sensitivity to light, he said. The pending criminal charges, though ultimately dismissed, ended his part-time gig as a computer technician for the Department of Education, he said.

“I lost my job. I needed to have a clean record,” he told The News. “My whole life has changed since that day.”

He said the brief criminal case also created licensing problems for the small daycare business run by his common-law wife Miriam Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 47, described Avila as a “kind-hearted person” Friday and said she was shocked when cops she encountered the night of the incident allegedly scoffed at Avila’s ability to afford his car and her ability to hire a lawyer.

“I felt belittled. I felt insulted,” she told The News. “I was devastated to see (Avila) in that manner, just bleeding with bruises and cuts, treated like a common criminal.”

Hoffman said his client has a clean criminal record and didn’t deserve “a captain-led beatdown and cover-up.”

The new civil rights action claims false arrest, excessive force and malicious prosecution. It names the officers along with the city of New York as defendants and seeks punitive damages.

Police did not respond to a request for comment.

Mitchell and Regent have been named before in civil rights claims.

Regent was sued in 2009 for an alleged assault involving a minor and the minor’s brother at the Javits Center in April 2007.

He countersued claiming the minor inappropriately touched his wife and that the older brother punched him first, grabbed his gun and pointed it at his head before throwing it away.

The city agreed to pay $ 13,000 to the brothers without admitting fault.

Mitchell was sued in 2011 by a man who claimed he was standing near 122nd Street and 2nd Ave. in April 2010 when he was approached by Mitchell and another officer and punched in the face.

Nayquan Nicholas sued for excessive force and false arrest and got a $ 19,000 settlement from the city in 2011 that admitted no fault.

Avila said he decided to file his claim two years after his alleged beating because he still fears interactions with the police and worries about his daughter, now a student at a Success Academy elementary school in Manhattan.

“These cops were out of control. That’s not what police are supposed to do,” he said. “I’m doing this for justice.”

ndillon@nydailynews.com

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police brutality
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