Excessive force lawsuit filed over Niskayuna arrest,Video is being withheld by attorney, police

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By Steven Cook

Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — A man who claims police used excessive force when they arrested him last year — breaking his arm in multiple places — has filed a federal lawsuit.

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Erick Rosenberg, 43, of State Street, Schenectady, filed the suit Friday, alleging denial of civil rights, excessive force, assault and battery and negligence. He is seeking unspecified damages.

The filing follows Rosenberg’s court appearance earlier this month on the underlying felony drunken driving charge, during which his criminal attorney referenced potential civil litigation. Sentencing in the criminal case was delayed until August.

Rosenberg alleges town police pulled him through his car window, then twisted his disabled arm behind him. The moves resulted in his arm breaking in at least three places, according to the lawsuit and previous court documents.

The officers pulled him through the window when they could have easily removed him through the car door, the lawsuit states. Rosenberg twice opened the door himself and complied with officers’ orders to remain inside, the suit states.

The town of Niskayuna, along with officers Jeffery Relation, Nicholas Pardi and Paul Hobson are named as defendants.

Town Supervisor Joe Landry said Tuesday the town had yet to be served with the suit, and he couldn’t comment.

Rosenberg was arrested May 30, 2016. In addition to the felony DWI count, he initially faced two charges of felony assault on an officer, as well as resisting arrest and unlawfully fleeing an officer counts. The assault charges were dismissed after a defense motion, according to the prosecutor in the case.

Rosenberg pleaded guilty to the felony DWI count earlier this year in exchange for a sentence of up to six months in jail. The drunken driving count was a felony, due to a 2011 DWI conviction, also resulting from a Niskayuna arrest.

A police in-car camera captured the arrest on video, attorneys have said. Rosenberg’s civil attorney, Kevin Luibrand, has said he can’t release the video. Prosecutors in the criminal case also said they couldn’t release it, citing Rosenberg’s pending sentencing.

According to the lawsuit, during his arrest, Rosenberg either got out of his car or opened his door twice before being ordered to remain inside by Relation. At one point, Relation ordered Rosenberg out of the car, only to push the car door back shut, the suit states.

Relation then yelled for Rosenberg to put his arms out the driver’s side window, the lawsuit states. That’s when Relation grabbed Rosenberg by his left arm and back, pulling him out through the window, according to the suit.

“Defendant Relation then applied excessive and unnecessary pressure to (Rosenberg’s) partially disabled left arm, twisting it until his left humerus suffered a displaced fracture,” the suit states. “Following the break, (Rosenberg’s) fractured left arm was then twisted by defendants Relation and Pardi 180 degrees and handcuffed to his right arm so that he was handcuffed with his open left hand and broken left arm facing in the opposite and unnatural direction.”

Hobson pinned Rosenberg’s legs down during the arrest, according to the suit.

Rosenberg suffers from a physical disability that impaired his use of his left arm and hand, something the the arresting officers knew, according to the suit.

One of the civil rights accusations alleges failure to train and supervise officers on how to restrain and move an individual with a physical disability and the proper use of force when restraining such an individual.