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OWS Protester Files Lawsuit Against NYPD Officer Who Allegedly Punched Him

By Ben Fractenberg | January 10, 2013 2:53pm

DOWNTOWN — An Occupy Wall Street protester has filed a federal lawsuit against a high-ranking NYPD officer who was caught on tape allegedly punching him several times during a 2011 demonstration.

Deputy Inspector Johnny Cardona punched Felix Rivera-Pitre — an HIV-positive activist — in the face, ripping an earing from his ear during an Oct. 14, 2011 protest in Downtown Manhattan, according to lawyer Ron Kuby. Rivera-Pitre appears in the footage to then fall to the ground, where Kuby said Cardona continued to hit him.

"The assault was a completely well-documented criminal act by a deputy inspector captured on video tape losing his temper and punching someone," Kuby said.

Kuby added that the suit is not requesting a specific amount of money but will be left up to a jury to decide.

Cordona opened a complaint against Rivera-Pitre after the incident, claiming the activist assaulted him prior to the scuffle. But the NYPD agreed to not charge Rivera-Pitre until after the Manhattan District Attorney's Office finished an investigation into the incident, according to Kuby.

The district attorney's office declined to comment on the current status of the investigation.

"The district attorney's office, when they face a tough decision, their method of operation is to pull the covers over their head and hope the scary thing goes away," Kuby said.

The lawyer added that he and Rivera-Pitre met with the DA's office on Oct. 31, 2011, and showed them videos of the incident, which Kuby said clearly show his client never assaulted Cordona.

"If there's going to be accountability," he said, "it has to come from the DA's office."

The NYPD did not immediately return a request for comment regarding the suit.