QUEENS — A uniformed postal worker who claims he was beaten by plainclothes detectives from a Queens gang squad last year plans to sue the department for $100 million — saying it was the culmination of nearly a year of police harassment, according to his lawyer.
A lawyer for Karim Baker, 26, said that long before Detectives Angelo Pampena and Robert Carbone attacked him as he returned to his vehicle from a day at work in October 2015, the NYPD had been tracking him using his license plate for his unwitting, brief interaction with the man who killed officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Bedford Stuyvesant on Dec. 20, 2014.
The NYPD recovered footage of a five-second interaction between Baker and Ismaaiyl Brinsley during their investigation, said Baker's attorney, Eric Subin.
After police repeatedly interviewed Baker and his family members, investigators officially cleared him of suspicion, Subin said.
But Baker continued to be targeted by the NYPD: In the nine months after the shooting, Baker was pulled over more than 20 times for minor traffic violations but not ticketed once, Subin said.
The campaign of harassment culminated in a brutal attack on Oct. 21, 2015, Subin said.
Pampena, 31, and Carbone, 29, both members of the Queens North Gang Unit, approached Baker in his vehicle on 96th Street near Christie Avenue in Corona, punched and kicked Baker several times, and threw him to the curb, according to the Queens District Attorney's Office.
Baker, who managed to dial 911 before the attack began, allowing his cellphone to continue to transmit audio of the attack as it lay on the ground during the beating, can be heard screaming "For the love of God, please help, somebody help!" Subin said, adding that the recording was played Tuesday at the detectives' arraignment.
"It is horrific," Subin said of the audiotape, which has not yet been released to the public. "It made the hairs on my arm stand up."
Baker had serious knee injuries, and still suffers from stabbing pains in his back and numbness in his hands. He said he is no longer able to work as a mail carrier for the U.S. Post Office.
"They beat on me," said Baker, who said he didn't believe he would survive the attack. "The only thing I could feel was that I was going to take my last breath."
On Wednesday, Pampena was charged with assault, perjury, offering a false instrument for filing and official misconduct. Carbone was charged with assault. They face up to seven years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
The detectives were released without bail at their arraignment and are due back in court in June, the DA's Office said.
Baker and his attorney said they plan to file a civil suit against the NYPD early next week for $100 million. But Baker said that winning the case would not bring him closure.
"It's nothing that can really resolve the issue. The damage is done, I'm not the same."