New Jersey News
Woman alleges police brutality in Paterson
PATERSON, N.J. (WABC) -- There are claims of police brutality against police in Paterson, New Jersey.
The woman making the claim says police video from inside the precinct proves her allegations.
She was thrown to the ground while handcuffed.
Now, the woman is filing civil rights and civil lawsuits against the department.
Linette Vazquez says without this video it would be her word against that of a Paterson police officer.
She says it's hard to watch the tape showing off-duty officer Michael Avila slamming her to the ground while she was handcuffed sitting on a bench in a holding cell nearly two years ago.
"The officer turned around and ran towards me and grabbed me by the neck and slammed me to the floor and continued to strangle me. It took four officers to grab him off of me," said Linette Vazquez, accuser.
Vazquez and her coworkers were eating breakfast at the Egg Platter diner after her shift as a dancer at Sunrise Gentlemen's Club.
She says a group of off duty officers who were at the club earlier made vulgar comments to them, creating an argument.
In the end, Vazquez was arrested for inciting a riot and aggravated assault against an officer.
Her attorney Nancy Lucianna showed Eyewitness News the charges were later dismissed.
"Unprovoked he choked her and hit her. It's an outrage. This officer should not be on the police force," Lucianna said.
City leaders confirm officer Avila was disciplined by the police department with a 90 day unpaid suspension.
But a grand jury found no reason to move forward with criminal charges against him.
Council member Bill McKoy says over the past 18 months, the city has paid out more than $1.2 million to settle lawsuits alleging abuse by Paterson Police officers.
He finds this piece of video disturbing.
"We have an excellent police department. But in an society you have a few people who are different. We need to have the best and the brightest on the streets that are fighting crime and not create it," McKoy said.
Paterson Police told Eyewitness News the department cannot comment on a pending lawsuit.
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