Brooklyn Man Who Was Choked During His Arrest Wins Lawsuit Against NYC

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
Dozens of protesters hold a demonstration and candlelight vigil in memory of Eric Garner outside the 120th Police Precinct Station Jan. 15, 2015, in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Kevin Dennis-Palmer, a 28-year-old father from Brooklyn, N.Y., settled a lawsuit against New York City for $75,000 for a 2013 incident that Dennis-Palmer alleges involved police brutality. He says that officers from the New York City Police Department used excessive force on him during a routine stop, including putting him in a choke hold, the New York Daily News reports.

More than a year before Eric Garner exclaimed “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” to Staten Island police officers, Dennis-Palmer screamed those words to Brooklyn cops during his arrest.


It happened when Dennis-Palmer was parallel-parking his vehicle near his Brownsville home. After cops asked Dennis-Palmer to show his license and registration, he asked the cops why he was being stopped and pulled out a smartphone to record the exchange. Dennis-Palmer alleges that police officers smacked the phone out of his hands and dragged him out of the car through the window. Once outside, Dennis-Palmer said, the attack continued.

“I’m grabbed, basically by the back of my sweater, turned around and slammed down on the right side of my face. That’s when the melee ensues and everyone jumps on me,” Dennis-Palmer said.


The choke hold happened when he was lying on the floor, Dennis-Palmer said, and one of the officers “tried picking him up by his neck,” the Daily News reports.

“I’m yelling, ‘I can’t breathe—you’re choking me! Just put the handcuffs on! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!’” Dennis-Palmer said.


After being processed and booked at a precinct, Dennis-Palmer went to the emergency room, where he was treated for a “knot on his temple, a swollen eye, and cuts on his wrist and his head,” the news site explains.

Recalling Garner’s death last July, Dennis-Palmer said, “It makes you realize how truly blessed you are to get out of that situation.”


New York City and the NYPD “did not acknowledge wrongdoing in the case,” but Dennis-Palmer’s lawyer Jeffrey Rothman explained why his client’s settlement is extremely significant, especially in light of the ongoing protests against the excessive force police have used in African-American communities. “No one suit is what forces change. It’s the accumulation of them that fosters public awareness … and the public’s demand for accountability,” Rothman said.

Read more at the New York Daily News.

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