The New York Daily News by Simone Weischselbaum and Rocco Parascandola - June 18, 2011
Merault Almonor and Wilma Dore-Almonor filed federal suit Friday against NYPD cops on behalf of their 13-year-old son, Devin.
A federal lawsuit filed Friday claims a pair of white cops stopped, frisked and handcuffed a Harlem teen for six hours - all because he's black. Devin Almonor was walking on W. 141st St. near his home in March 2010. Police said he was one of a group of kids causing a ruckus in the area that prompted six 911 calls. Cops claimed Devin, then 13, reached toward his waistband as if he had a gun. In his first public comments about the frightening encounter, Devin told the Daily News he was just trying to get home when he was stopped by plainclothes cops. "It was surreal," said Devin, a freshman at All Hallows, a Catholic school in the Bronx. "I thought cops were out here to protect us. But they racially profile. They are prejudiced. I don't know what to believe anymore." Police acknowledged Devin didn't have a weapon. And he wasn't charged with a crime. Still, the teen and his parents say he was handcuffed to a bar inside the 30th Precinct stationhouse during a chaotic six hours. The NYPD didn't respond Friday to requests for comment. According to the lawsuit, police officers not only cuffed the teen in a juvenile holding room, they also teased him for crying. The cops told him he was crying like a girl, the suit alleges. When Devin's parents showed up at the police station to pick him up, all hell broke loose. Merault Almonor, a former NYPD cop who retired in 2003 from the 20th Precinct, and Wilma Dore-Almonor, a nursing student, say they were attacked by police, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. "I thought I was in the black-and-white movies like you see in the South," the 52-year-old mom said Friday. "These cops aren't supposed to beat you. I just wanted to pick up my son." Cops at the 30th Precinct said the parents were the aggressors. They accused the dad of punching a cop in the face - a claim he denies. He was charged with assault and acquitted in April. "I can't believe my department did this to me," said Merault Almonor, 50, whose late father-in-law was an NYPD detective who served for 37 years. "We are a family of cops." He's still angry. "I used to look up to cops," he said. "After this, I lost respect for the department." Lawyers Jonathan Moore and Joel Rudin argued in the suit that Devin's run-in with cops was just another example of racially motivated policing under the controversial stop-and-frisk program. Civil libertarians and community activists have long argued that the program targets blacks and Hispanics. The suit also references the "Dirty 30" scandal that rocked the precinct in the early 1990s when 29 officers were busted for faking police radio and 911 calls to cover up illegal raids at drug dealers' apartments. And it lists as exhibits T-shirts that are advertised on the precinct's Facebook page. One labels the precinct the "House of Pain." The precinct culture, the suit says, reflects "a tolerance for excessive force and disrespect for members of the community." The lawsuit names as defendants six individual cops, including Sgt. Jonathan Korabel and Officer Brian Dennis, the two who took Devin into custody. firstname.lastname@example.org