Harlem Community Leader Assaulted and Falsely Arrested


New York Civil Rights Lawyer Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., alleges in a $5 Mil. Notice of Claim filing that Russell ‘Big Russ’ Smith was assaulted and falsely arrested

New York, November 29, 2016 – Smith ‘Big Russ’ (community leader and merchant) claims while walking on Adam Clayton Lowell Jr. Boulevard near West 133rd Street, he observed a marked NYPD van assigned to the 32nd Precinct with a vehicle stopped. Upon closer examination, Smith noticed his brother was operating the vehicle stopped by the police. Smith claims he walked over to his brother in the street to find out what was going on. At least one he knew, Police Officer Gonzalez from prior interactions with the NYPD over the years performing police-community projects including ‘gun buy-backs, etc.’ Smith claims another police officer, later identified as Mendoza, told him to move away from the vehicle. In response, Smith claims he walked onto the sidewalk approximately 15-25′ away from the vehicle stop but, still observed the interaction between his brother and the police officers.

Shortly thereafter, Smith claims all three (3) police officers, later identified as Mendoza, Gonzalez and Aligni (phonetic spelling) exited the marked NYPD van and approached him on the sidewalk. Smith claims Police Officer Mendoza threatened to arrest him paraphrase, “You don’t fucking English? Back the fuck up away from the vehicle? Give me your id?” Smith refused, asking him what did he do? One of the police officers transmitted a 10-85 over the police radio. A number of police officers responded. Smith claims Police Officer Whitterneu (phonetic spelling) without warning or provocation, punched him in the face. Smith claims Police officers Mendoza, Gonzalez, Aligni and several other unidentified police officers struck him about the body attempting to handcuff him. Smith claims none of the police officers stopped the assault and false arrest as he violated no laws. Smith claims Sergeant Ramos, later identified as the patrol supervisor, responded the scene but, did not VOID the arrest and report the aforementioned police officers to the Internal Affairs Bureau for the assault and false arrest. Smith claims in the meantime, his spouse Police Officer Shanturah Brathwaite assigned to the 32nd Precinct responded to the scene of the incident where she was told to leave and mind her business. Smith claims he was transported to the 32nd Precinct with pain about the body and a bloody mouth, he refuse medical attention.

Smith claims upon arrival in the 32nd Precinct, Sergeant King, later identified as the Desk Officer knew he was injured and falsely arrested but, did not VOID the arrest or report the use of force against him as required by department policy. Smith claims Former Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Michael Davidson, Executive Officer Captain (unidentified) and Lieutenant Valad (phonetic spelling) were present in the station house and aware he was injured and falsely arrested but, did not VOID the arrest or report the use of force against him as required by the department policy. Smith claims sometime later after being transported to Central Booking, the supervisors became aware he was injured and falsely arrested but, did not VOID the arrest or report the use of force against him as required by department policy. Smith claims the aforementioned collectively decided to falsely uphold the narrative he assaulted police officers and falsely charged him with Assault in the Second Degree a Felony and related criminal charges.

Smith claims shortly thereafter, he was arraigned on the false charges. Smith claims although he had NO ARREST RECORD, the District Attorney requested and the Court imposed cash bail. Smith claims after several court appearances, around August 2015, ALL charges were DISMISSED and SEALED.

Smith claims since May 5, 2015, he has experienced emotional distress and have incurred substantial legal costs related to being assaulted and falsely arrested.

“This is more than disgraceful. Here, we have ‘Big Russ’ and his spouse Officer Brathwaite, being ‘bullied’ and abused. Ironically, it’s their own NYPD family. Mayor DeBlasio and Police Commissioner O’Neill must investigate these and similar allegations, hold officers’ accountable with swift, decisive and severe disciplinary action,” says Eric Sanders.

Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., filed the Notice of Claim with the City of New York, et al., on November 27, 2016.

About The Sanders Firm, P.C.

The Sanders Firm, P.C. offers those in the New York City area legal services related and connected to civil rights, civil service rightscriminal law and discrimination. We firmly believe in everyone’s individual rights that are described and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. We understand that our freedoms and liberties are sacrosanct and that they have been won in many and various hard-fought battles. We are committed in every way to protecting your civil rights. We are your voice for justice!


Eric Sanders, Esq.
President and Owner, The Sanders Firm, P.C.
Business Phone: 212-808-6515


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