Man claiming excessive force sentenced; video released

01 Police Still

Steven Cook

Daily Gazette

NISKAYUNA —  A man suing the Niskayuna Police Department over injuries he suffered in his drunk driving arrest received six months in jail at his sentencing Friday in the underlying DWI case.

The conclusion of the criminal case against Erick  Rosenberg also resulted in the release Friday to The Daily Gazette the in-car police video that the man’s attorneys say shows an officer breaking his arm in multiple places.

Rosenberg, 43, of State Street, was charged after the May 30, 2016, Albany Street incident with felony driving while intoxicated, two counts of felony assault on an officer, resisting arrest and unlawfully fleeing an officer. The assault counts were dismissed after a defense motion, according to the prosecutor in the case.

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

In court Friday, Judge Mark Blanchfield sentenced Rosenberg to the maximum sentence under the agreement, six months in jail and then five years of probation. The judge cited a pre-sentence report in the case, which he said indicated a pattern of poor decision-making on Rosenberg’s part.

Rosenberg’s criminal attorney, Thomas O’Malley, had asked for less than the six months. He called Rosenberg a hard worker and a new father. O’Malley also cited the broken arm Rosenberg suffered during his arrest.

Rosenberg filed a lawsuit against the town in May over his injuries in the stop. He claims in the suit that 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 town of Niskayuna, along with officers Jeffery Relation, Nicholas Pardi and Paul Hobson are named as defendants.

The police in-car camera captured the arrest on video.

According to the lawsuit, at one point Relation ordered Rosenberg out of the car, only to push the car door back shut.

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.

The video released Friday has audio available on an inward-facing car video, however, much of the audio of the initial encounter with Rosenberg after he stopped is drowned out by the patrol car’s sirens.

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

Rosenberg alleges excessive and unnecessary force that left Rosenberg’s arm handcuffed and that Rosenberg’s 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.”

Rosenberg is handcuffed on the video below the car’s hood line, but the state of his arm can briefly be seen as officers lift him off the ground.

Town Supervisor Joe Landry declined to comment on the civil case Friday. The attorney for the town defendants has filed a general denial of the accusations in the civil case, along with a series of potential defenses.

Rosenberg’s attorney in the civil case, Kevin Luibrand, could not be reached for comment Friday.