BROWNSVILLE — Karen Fludd wants to know the truth about how her 17-year-old son became a quadriplegic and eventually died after NYPD officers stopped him for fare-beating one night last May.
The Red Hook mother said she has received very little information about what transpired — but what she does know is her son’s version of events involves accusations of excessive force and widely diverges from the vague account police gave her.
The police told her that on May 5, 2013, four officers spotted her son, Deion Fludd, and his girlfriend squeezing through a turnstile at the Rockaway Avenue station in Brownsville on a single MetroCard swipe. After the officers asked for their identifications and began to make an arrest, Deion fled, running onto the C train tracks, the police told her.
Karen, 48, said police told her that after her son took off, a subway train clipped him, fracturing his skull and two parts of his spine, according to police.
But before he died from his injuries on July 12, 2013, Deion gave his mother a blow-by-blow account that didn’t involve a subway train.
“We asked him if he got hit by a train. He immediately said, 'No,'” Karen recalled her son telling her at Kings County Hospital, where he was treated for nearly two months. “He was very adamant that he did not get hit by a train.”
She said her son told her he did flee police when the officers tried to arrest him. He ran the length of the subway platform as officers followed him and bounded onto the C line tracks, running to the platform at the next station at Ralph Avenue.
There, an officer caught him and hit him on the back of the head with a flashlight, according to Deion’s account.
Deion told his mom that officers then held him down with their feet on his back as he struggled until his voice suddenly stopped working.
“They said, ‘Oh, you gonna be running? We are going to make sure your ass don’t run again,’” Deion recalled the officers telling him, according to Karen.
Deion said after that he fell in and out of consciousness, but remembers being taken back on the tracks by police.
Karen wants to know if the officers tried to cover up his injuries by placing his son on the tracks and claiming a train hit him.
“I just want the truth. Everyone needs to know how these officers conducted themselves,” Karen told DNAinfo New York on Thursday. “If these officers acted badly, then the public needs to know this.”
She filed a lawsuit on March 26 in Brooklyn Supreme Court against the four officers, the NYPD and the MTA.
In the suit, Karen accuses the officers of assaulting her son when he reached the Ralph Avenue station.
“Defendants used excessive and deadly force without sufficient cause and under circumstances that did not warrant the use of the same as he was only stopped and detained initially on the suspicion of having not paid his $2.50 fare,” the lawsuit says.
Karen hopes the lawsuit will determine whether Deion was actually hit by a subway train — and if so, why officers didn't alert the MTA that someone was on the tracks.
The Fludds’ lawyer, Paul Fino Jr., said NYPD officers told EMT workers that Fludd’s injuries were caused by a subway train striking him while he was on the tracks. MTA records also show that a person was struck at that location and time.
But Fino said he’s only heard the police account so far and believes the lawsuit and information from the MTA will show what really happened.
The lawyer noted that Deion’s injuries don’t match a subway accident.
“If a subway hits you, you get more than a fracture of the skull,” he said, noting that Deion had no lacerations or other injuries other than the spinal damage.
Fino added that Deion’s girlfriend, Hesha Sanchez, who remained with an officer after her boyfriend fled, said the officer stopped at least one train from entering a station during the chase.
But even if a train did hit Deion, Fino said, he wants to know why the officers didn’t contact the station agents or the MTA to halt all subway traffic on the line while pursuing the teen.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment, and the MTA declined to comment on pending litigation.
Deion was a ninth-grader at Parkside Academy at the time of the arrest.
He had attended Sunset Park High School, but on Sept. 25, 2012 was arrested at the school for assaulting a student and a school safety officer who tried to break up the fight, according to a criminal complaint. A family court judge sentenced him to community service, according to Karen Fludd.
Before his final encounter with police, Deion was busted for fare-beating on March 5, 2013, at 12:41 a.m. at the Fourth Avenue station on the F line, according to a criminal complaint.
Deion had been visiting Sanchez at her home in Brownsville on the night of the May 5 arrest. Between 10:00 p.m. and 10:38 p.m., he and his girlfriend had gone to the Rockaway Avenue station so he could head home to his family's Red Hook apartment.
Karen Fludd said Sanchez went through the turnstile with her son so she could keep him company on the platform. Karen said she was told the four officers immediately stopped them after the incident.
“[Sanchez] wasn’t gonna go with him,” the mom said. “[The officers] never bothered to ask him that. Deion was upset. That’s why he ran.”
Deion was charged with criminal trespass in the third degree and theft of services, according to court records. The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office could not immediately say whether the case was thrown out before Deion's death or closed after he died.
The lawsuit claims that, even though Fludd was fully paralyzed, he was handcuffed to his hospital bed after his arrest and an officer guarded his room.
The teen remained at Kings County Hospital for nearly two months and was connected to a ventilator.
“The doctor actually said that he had the Superman break,” Karen said, referring to actor Christopher Reeve’s spinal cord injury.
Two days before his death on July 12, 2013, Deion was transferred to a rehabilitation center in Far Rockaway. He died of cardiac arrest as a result of his paralysis, according to his mother.
"He's been to his girlfriend's house numerous times. He was going to get home before 10. It didn't happen that way," his mother said. "His story needs to be told."