WILLIAMSBURG — A Brooklyn fashion student who police believe was beaten by five men last year is suing his attackers and the Hasidic security patrol he claims they were part of — asking for money for injuries and accusing the patrol of negligence.
Taj Patterson, 22, suffered from a broken eye socket and a torn retina after a crowd of men allegedly he claimed to be in the Williamsburg Shomrim beat him on Dec. 1. He told the New York Daily News at the time he was "an easy target" for the men because he is gay and black.
Now, his family wants justice "criminally and civilly," said his attorney Sanford Rubenstein to DNA Info New York.
"Of course, the criminal case will take precedence," Rubenstein said. "But certainly this young man is entitled to damages from what was done to him."
The lawsuit claims the five men were acting as members of the Shomrim security patrol, a citizen patrol in the Hasidic community, when they beat him in response to unfounded reports that Patterson had damaged cars. The lawyer did not name a dollar amount for cost of the injuries.
The District Attorney's office claimed the group detained Patterson while investigating the damage. It also accuses the patrol of not doing due diligence in hiring and training the volunteers.
The Shomrim Williamsburg Safety Patrol declined to comment on the case.
The patrol previously denied that the men were affiliated with the group, though defendant Aharon Hollander's attorney has said his client is a member.
The five men, Pinchas Braver, Mayer Herskovic, Abraham Winkler, Joseph Fried and Hollander, are still in the midst of their criminal trial, where they are charged with seven counts, including gang assault in the first degree.
Winkler's attorney George Farkas declined to comment on specifics of the case, but told DNAinfo New York more details would emerge from that night.
"There is more to the case than meets the eye," he said.