New York City Detective Falsely Arrested for Drunk Driving Sues Fellow NYPD Officer

May 6, 2014

The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington have filed a lawsuit in federal District Court, alleging constitutional violations on behalf of a detective with the New York Police Department who was falsely arrested for drunk driving and later acquitted.

In May 2011, Joseph Oquendo, a NYPD First Grade Detective, was driving through a Brooklyn neighborhood after dropping someone off when he stopped at a traffic light. While waiting for the light to change, he fell asleep sitting straight up. A group of NYPD officers approached Mr. Oquendo’s vehicle. Surveillance video showed officers standing around Mr. Oquendo’s vehicle for 10 minutes before knocking on his window briefly. After Mr. Oquendo produced his badge and identification, he was asked to step out of his car and perform a sobriety test. The video shows Mr. Oquendo being able to get out of the car without assistance and walking without losing balance. The officers did not conduct a blood alcohol or breath test on Mr. Oquendo, even though he was willing to provide samples.

However, one of the officers at the scene, Sergeant Viet Cao, said Mr. Oquendo was slumped behind the wheel and needed assistance coming out of his vehicle. He also said that officers banged on his window for several minutes before Mr. Oquendo woke up. Mr. Oquendo was later arrested for drunk driving. But the officers at the scene said Mr. Cao’s testimony differed from what really happened. Mr. Oquendo was later acquitted of all charges, but was retaliated against by the NYPD for opposing the false charges. He is currently suing the City of New York for the damages caused to him and his career, as well as punitive damages and fees, with Mr. Cao as one of the defendants.

“Mr. Cao has a history of providing false testimony in order to justify his arrests of innocent people,” Mr. Brewington said. “When you have a situation that is going to cheapen the badge and the uniform by making false and unreasonable statements in the light of true and strong evidence, that is something we have to stand up against.”

Gregory Calliste and Frederick K. Brewington from the firm are working on this case for the firm. They are continuing to review.

To view the complaint, click here.