HEMPSTEAD, NY — The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington has announced that the firm’s clients — Shuay’b Greenaway, Avery Knight and Sharon Knight — were awarded a total of $8.32 million by a federal jury in Brooklyn against Nassau County police officers and Hempstead Village police officers who falsely imprisoned and Tasered Mr. Greenaway, although he never posed as a threat to the officers. The lawsuit cited violations of false imprisonment under the Fourth Amendment and New York State law, trespass, excessive force under the Fourth Amendment, assault and battery, failure to stop the abuse and municipal liability.
On April 25, 2010, Mr. Greenaway was in his home painting his bathroom and his mother, Mrs. Knight, called 911 for assistance with her son, thinking he should go to the hospital to be checked out. She told the operator he was “not dangerous,” but needed help. Village of Hempstead Police Officers Frane Reado and Walter Ohr arrived at the scene, followed by Nassau County Police Officers Vincent Papa, Ronald Schmitt, Clarence Hudson and William Stio. The Nassau officers received a call about a “mental aided” person at 221 Amherst Street in Hempstead, but never asked the 911 dispatcher about Mr. Greenaway’s mental health condition, background or behavior before interacting with him, as required by Nassau County Police Department policy.
When police entered the house, they encountered Mr. Greenaway, who was painting the bathroom. They asked Mr. Greenaway to come with them to the hospital, but he refused. He showed them his identification and asked if he was under arrest or if he had done anything wrong. After Officer Reado answered no, Mr. Greenaway said, “Please leave my home.” Thereafter, the Nassau County Police Emergency Service Unit arrived and Officer Reado told them to Taser Mr. Greenaway, although Mr. Greenaway had not threatened or been violent in any way. Then Nassau Police Officer Hudson stepped up and deployed his Taser weapon, hitting Mr. Greenaway. Just prior to the Tasering, the officers physically removed Mrs. Knight and Mr. Knight from the adjacent bedroom and locked them out of the room. They heard their son crying out in agony from the other side of the door as Officers Hudson and Stio Tasered Mr. Greenaway a total of four times. During that whole time, Mr. Greenaway never verbally or physically threatened the officers. Mr. Greenaway suffered puncture wounds and painful swelling on his chest, his leg and arm as a result of the Taser shots. He also was seriously impacted emotionally from this trauma and the mental health professional who was treating him testified about how this negatively harmed and impacted his overall mental health which now caused him to be treated for anxiety, PTSD symptoms, trust issues and fear as a result of this incident.
On April 25, 2011, The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington filed a complaint on behalf of Mr. Greenaway and his family. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on September 18, 2013, claiming that Mr. Greenaway was acting in a menacing manner and threatened the officers at the time of the incident. On March 31, 2015, Judge William F. Kuntz, II, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, denied the officers summary judgment and allowed the lawsuit to move forward. On May 22, 2017, after a five-day trial, a jury of eight, with Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn presiding, awarded Mr. Greenaway a verdict of $8.32 million. The case was tried by Mr. Brewington and Associate Olivier E. Roche.
“This is a wonderful victory for my clients,” Mr. Brewington said. “It is incredible that these officers would use such unnecessary force when Mr. Greenaway never even posed a threat and never showed any empathy for his condition. Just because you are suffering from a mental disability, the police don’t have the right to ignore your basic Civil Rights. This should be a lesson about respect and how force and inflicting pain on innocent people is not acceptable from those who are charged to serve and protect.”