A New York City woman is suing the New York Police Department for officers’ behavior in a Labor Day 2012 incident in which police allegedly broke windows to gain warrantless access to her home, beat and pepper sprayed her family members, and intentionally killed her pet parakeet by crushing it underfoot.
According to the lawsuit, Evelyn Lugo, who lives on Staten Island, was entertaining some of her sons and daughters at her home when police stopped and questioned one of her sons, Edwin Avellanet, who had briefly gone outside to take out the trash. The cops wanted to know about a traffic cone someone in the family allegedly had placed in front of the house to reserve a parking space.
When Avellanet refused to provide the identification the officers demanded (on the grounds he’d done nothing wrong), they allegedly attempted to detain him by grabbing his arm. Avellanet managed to break free and run into the house, with the police in alleged pursuit.
The police allegedly responded by breaking out several first-floor windows. Lugo went to the door to see what all the commotion was about; but, she said, the police charged into the home the second she opened the door — and threw her to the ground.
The suit states the cops then went inside, struck Avellanet two or three times with a hard object and beat and pepper sprayed at least two other people, including a woman who allegedly was thrown into a dresser. Atop that dresser was a birdcage that held Lugo’s parakeet, Tito. The impact knocked the cage off the dresser and sent Tito onto the floor.
“I screamed, ‘The bird!’ ” Lugo’s daughter, Anna Febles, told the New York Daily News a week after the incident. “And he [the officer] said, ‘F— the bird,’ and he, like, stepped on it.”
From New York DNA Info:
Lugo’s son, daughter and family friend were arrested and all three were taken to Staten Island University Hospital in custody.
They were treated for multiple facial lacerations and lacerations to the head. Lugo’s daughter was also treated for an asthma attack, the court papers say.
Those arrested included two of Lugo’s adult children and a family friend. Avellanet himself was never arrested or charged with a crime. The charges against the three who were arrested were later dismissed and the records sealed by the Richmond County Supreme Court.
“It was completely uncalled for,” said Jason Leventhal, Lugo’s attorney. “There was no excuse for going into the house without a warrant.”
Lugo is suing the department for unlawful search and seizure, excessive force and malicious prosecution.