BELMONT — Two NYPD officers left a Bronx man a quadriplegic after shoving him over a railing in retaliation for trying to flee from them, a new lawsuit charges.
"This is what happens when you run from the cops," one of the officers told Eliezer Lopez before pushing him over a railing and sending him tumbling 15 feet to the ground, according to the lawsuit.
Lopez and his wife, Suhail Laureano, filed the lawsuit against the city and the officers in Bronx Supreme Court last week, saying that he landed on his head, crushing his cervical spine. Lopez and Laureano accuse the officers — Luis Linares and Luis Angeles of the 42nd Precinct — of excessive force and of exacerbating his injury by handcuffing and moving him after his fall.
"Permanently paralyzed from the neck down, Mr. Lopez's care now falls on his wife, Suhail Laureano, and five children," the lawsuit says.
Lopez, 37, was in Crotona Park with an acquaintance, Jose Alvarez, at about 3 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2015, when two plainclothes officers suddenly ran at them. The lawsuit says Lopez and Alvarez fled because the officers didn't display their badges or identify themselves as police.
Officers Linares and Angeles apprehended Lopez at Crotona Park North near Arthur Avenue, according to the lawsuit. When the officers asked why he ran, Lopez said he didn't know they were police.
Lopez said in the lawsuit that one of the officers then said: "This is what happens when you run from the cops."
The officer then pushed Lopez with "great force" over a 36-inch-high railing that he had his back to, the lawsuit says. Lopez fell 15 feet and, after he was handcuffed, he was taken to Jacobi Hospital, where he underwent surgery, but doctors couldn't fix his spine.
His lawyer, Julia Kuan, said Lopez was arrested but declined to say what the charges were. However, Kuan said the criminal case was dismissed. She declined to discuss the lawsuit.
State records show that Lopez served four years in prison for burglary and robbery. He got out in 2014 and is under post-release supervision until 2020, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
A city Law Department spokesman declined to discuss the lawsuit because it was under review.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment about the lawsuit or whether the department's Internal Affairs Bureau had conducted an investigation into Lopez's paralysis.