‘I could have died’: NYC, former NYPD officer settle apparent chokehold case for $567,500

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Video shows NYPD detective put man in what appears to be banned chokehold

Video shows NYPD detective put man in what appears to be banned chokehold. (Credit: Legal Aid Society handout)

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — A former NYPD detective accused of using a banned chokehold when he responded to a noise complaint has cost the city more than a half a million dollars after New York City reached a settlement with the arrested man.

The lawsuit settlement announced Wednesday was one of several involving the officer throughout his career totaling more than $640,000.

The ordeal began on July 14, 2018, when Tomás Medina and his friends were playing music near 206th Street and 10th Avenue. Police were called to the area for a noise complaint.

What happened next was caught on surveillance video as well as an NYPD body-worn camera.

Video provided by the Legal Aid Society showed then-Det. Fabio Nunez grabbed Medina by the neck and shoved him into a car. 

Legal Aid argued Nunez put Medina in what appeared to be a chokehold, which is listed as banned by the NYPD patrol guide, for more than 20 seconds. Nunez then drew his stun gun and used it on Medina 13 times.

In 2018, an NYPD spokesperson said that Medina “physically resisted arrest for a prolonged period of time.”

Medina was initially charged in the incident, but the charges were later dismissed and sealed.

Medina agreed to settle the case after the department forced Nunez to retire, according to the Legal Aid Society. The NYPD told PIX11 on Wednesday Nunez is no longer employed by the department.

“Being attacked by the NYPD was one of the scariest things to ever happen to me. I could have died. What they did to me, and what they do to so many other people is not okay, but I take some comfort in knowing that Detective Nunez is no longer a police officer and that both he and the City have to pay for what they did to me,” Medina said in a statement on Wednesday.

As part of the settlement, New York City will pay $562,500 and Nunez will pay $5,000 for a total of $567,500.

This isn’t the first time New York City taxpayers will foot the bill for a lawsuit brought against the NYPD because of Nunez’s actions.

The city has paid out multiple settlements for cases involving Nunez, officials with the city’s law office told PIX11 in 2018. In 2008, a $38,500 settlement was awarded to Steven Soto and in 2013, a $40,000 settlement was awarded to Luis and Prisca Martinez.

Molly Griffard, with The Legal Aid Society, said the settlement should send a message of accountability to the NYPD.

“While this settlement will never completely right the injustice that Tomás Medina suffered or dismantle the NYPD’s culture of impunity for excessive force, it does provide some closure and sends a message to the NYPD that violence against civilians will be met with consequences,” Griffard said in a statement. “So long as the NYPD brutalizes our clients, we will continue to seek accountability and an end to NYPD violence.”

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