New Yorkers beaten and kettled by the NYPD during a Mott Haven protest following the George Floyd killing may receive part of a recently announced multimillion dollar settlement, but some residents demand more from the NYPD to help the community heal from the June 4, 2020 incident.
While attorney Joshua Moskovitz called the settlement “as far as we can tell, the largest per person class-action mass arrest settlement in the country,” it has not brought much satisfaction to some who are still rattled by what they experienced and feel the settlement does not equate with accountability for the NYPD.
Mott Haven resident Jastria Nieves, 41, wrote to The Herald via Instagram message, “I hope the RIGHT people are getting that $$. It irritates me so much that the taxpayer is footing the bill. What are the real repercussions [for the NYPD]? A desk?”
Another lifelong Mott Haven resident and BronxNet reporter, Sonyi Lopez, filmed the protests for BronxNet and said of the settlement, “I feel like a lot of folks think that $21,500 is not enough.”
A report released in February by the Civilian Complaint Review Board showed that the June 4, 2020 protest in Mott Haven yielded the most complaints against the NYPD of any single protest in the city.
Now, taxpayers are on the hook for the approximately $6 million settlement, with each member of the eligible class to receive $21,500 each, and the plaintiffs double that amount, according to terms of the settlement. Over 300 people could potentially qualify for the money.
Settlements for police misconduct lawsuits routinely cost the city millions — over $68 million in just the first half of 2022.
This settlement did not come with any admission of wrongdoing by the NYPD.
In an interview with Democracy Now!, plaintiff Samira Sierra said,” We have a long way to go, but it feels really good, for the lack of a better word, to know that there is some accountability.”
RESIGNED IN PROTEST
At the time of the protest, Nieves had been working for about six and a half years as a civilian investigator for the NYPD.
After what she experienced at the protest, she resigned the following Monday.
In an Instagram message exchange with The Herald, Nieves wrote, “U don’t get to do that in my neighborhood and keep me on ur team. I wouldn’t even mop their floors.”
Nieves explained further in a phone call that while protesting on June 4, 2020, she managed to get to safety just outside of where the police had kettled protesters, penning them in so they couldn’t leave.
“When I watched these motherf—ers grab a bike and swing it at the crowd — listen, there was no way I was walking into that building,” said Nieves, referring to her former job at 1 Police Plaza.
As for the settlement, Nieves said, “I can’t even speak for what they must’ve gone through after I left. … Who knows if that’s the right amount of money.”
Sonyi Lopez shot footage of the 2020 protests for BronxNet, filming from the streets and out her window. News of the settlement was not fully comforting to Lopez, who wanted to know, “Do we have the names of the cops who were involved, the ones who directly violated and abused protesters that day? Like, what else is happening besides this payout to protesters?”
The lawsuit names three NYPD officers — Thomas Mosher, Thomas Garguilo, and John Migliaccio — who violated the rights of the plaintiffs. According to online personnel records, all three officers are still employed with the NYPD, and Garguilo was promoted to sergeant in November 2020.
According to the lawsuit, plaintiff Charles Henry Wood had bent over to shield a woman on the ground, and an unnamed officer “struck Mr. Wood hard in the upper back with a police baton.” Then, Mosher “ripped Mr. Wood away from behind, dragged him away from the crowd, lifted him, and threw him to the ground.” Garguilo then “handcuffed Mr. Wood very tightly with plastic zip-tie cuffs.”
The court document also states that Officer Migliaccio “lifted Plaintiff [Ricardo] Nigaglioni’s face shield, pulled down his face mask, and pepper sprayed him in the face, blinding him.”
Lopez said that for her, the settlement brought “a sense of relief for the protesters who were harmed” but no real closure: “I feel like what was missing here is a conversation with the city and accountability from the NYPD, the Strategic Response Group, as well as the 40th precinct,” she said in a phone interview with The Herald.
She said a group of adults and children aligned with the community group Mott Haven Families had protested outside the 40th precinct every Sunday morning for months, “asking the NYPD and the 40th precinct to have a conversation about what happened on June 4, and that never happened.”
“We need to demand more accountability,” she said. “And what does that look like? You know, I don’t know but, but I don’t think it looks like…just a payout. … You know, like, ‘Here, you can stop talking about June 4 now.’”