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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

$1M for straphanger whacked by cop

The New York Daily News by JOHN MARZULLI - May 7, 2008

The city agreed Monday to pay $1 million to a Brooklyn straphanger who was walloped in the face with a cop's nightstick after being ejected from a No. 2 train, the Daily News has learned. Mitchi Cunningham, 24, underwent neurosurgery to relieve swelling inside his skull and suffered permanent loss of his sense of smell as a result of the clubbing, according to court documents and his attorney, Fred Lichtmacher. "He was hit in the face with a baton for asking the officer for his shield number," Lichtmacher said. Cunningham and two friends, Marcus Copeland and Johnel Jamison, both 20, were heading home after seeing a movie in Times Square on Nov. 5, 2004, when the train's motorman told Copeland to put out his cigarette. The trio walked through the cars to the back of the train, where Copeland and Jamison started rapping, court papers show. When the train pulled into the Wall St. station, Officer Marcus Rollins boarded the car and ordered the three to get off the train.

The confrontation escalated when the group refused to leave the station and Rollins pepper-sprayed them, the papers show. Cunningham retreated and claimed he was then attacked when he returned to ask Rollins for his badge number. Rollins contended the men tried to take his gun, but a token booth clerk who saw the incident testified at a deposition that none of the men acted menacingly toward the cop. The settlement was reached during jury selection for the case in Manhattan Federal Court. Copeland and Jamison, who were suing for malicious prosecution, will each receive $30,000 under the settlement. "The city evaluated the case and felt that settlement was in everyone's best interest," said city attorney Rachel Seligman.

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