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‘Guns out’: NYPD body cam footage released in excessive force case

July 8, 2019 Noah Goldberg
A screen shot of the body camera footage of NYPD Officer Julio Ramos as he arrests Ricardo Mendoza in 2018. Courtesy of Abraham Rubert-Schewel

A Brooklyn man is suing the NYPD over a traffic stop for speeding that left him bleeding profusely from his face, according to cellphone and police body camera video footage released Monday.

Ricardo Mendoza was driving his father and two teenage passengers on April 27, 2018, when cops from the 79th Precinct pulled him over at a red light on Flushing Avenue and Nostrand Avenue at the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg border, according to the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

“We’re jumping on f-cking everybody right now. Everybody go to one f-cking car,” says Officer Julio Ramos to the other cops, according to body camera video released by Mendoza’s lawyers Monday. “Guns out. F-ck that,” Ramos says before getting out of the police car. The other officers named in the lawsuit are Joseph Ardolino and Joseph Scaglione.

In the body camera video, Ramos walks over to the white BMW that Mendoza is driving.

“You got your gun out for what?” Mendoza asks Ramos when the officer tells him to get out of the car. Officers repeatedly tell Mendoza to get out of the vehicle, and he tells them not to touch him and asks why he is being pulled over.

When Mendoza, then 21, first asks what he was doing to warrant being pulled over, Ramos asks, “How fast do you think you were going?”

At one point in the video, when a female passenger in the back seat asks why Ramos has his gun out, the officer responds, “I don’t know what you’re doing, you’re doing like 90 miles per hour.”

Another cop then radios for backup.

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In the video, after Mendoza refuses repeatedly to get out of the car, Ramos pulls him out by the arm. He then repeatedly tells Mendoza to turn around. The body camera footage becomes jerky and difficult to decipher because Mendoza and Ramos are in close proximity, but Mendoza ends up pinned to the pavement by Ramos, according to the video footage.

Cell phone footage recorded by a witness shows Mendoza bleeding from his face as Ramos pulls him up from the ground a few seconds later.

Ricardo Mendoza suffered injuries to the face during his arrest in 2018. Photo courtesy of Abraham Rubert-Schewel
Ricardo Mendoza suffered injuries to the face during his arrest in 2018. Photo courtesy of Abraham Rubert-Schewel

Mendoza’s lawyer, Abraham Rubert-Schewel, alleges that Ramos punched Mendoza in the face using his handcuffs and then kneed Mendoza as he fell to the ground. It is not clear in the body camera footage that this happened.

A witness reported seeing the officer knee Mendoza, Rubert-Schewel said.

Rubert-Schewel said that NYPD officers should have de-escalated the situation and blamed the NYPD for failing to properly instruct officers on de-escalation tactics, citing a 2015 Department of Investigation study.

“By exiting his vehicle with his firearm drawn, Officer Ramos turned a simple traffic stop into an unfortunately hostile situation, which ended with his violent assault on 21-year-old Ricardo Mendoza. Incidents like this show the importance of police training, discipline and tracking when it comes to the NYPD’s use of excessive force,” Rubert-Schewel said.

“NYPD officers, unfortunately, have no explicit rule or guideline determining when an officer may draw his or her firearm. Violent police acts will continue as long as officers are not properly trained or supervised on de-escalation during citizen encounters.”

Rubert-Schewel said all criminal charges against Mendoza were dismissed and sealed. A spokesperson for the Brooklyn district attorney confirmed that Mendoza pleaded guilty to speeding in February 2019, but did not comment on whether any charges were dismissed.

Ramos was previously sued in 2016 along with other officers accused of falsely arresting and assaulting a group of people out on a picnic. The officers were called to the scene after a man sexually harassed and assaulted one of the women. Police officers responding to the scene — including Ramos — allegedly “began indiscriminately attacking plaintiffs and their relatives,” including a teenager, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court. That case is still pending.

City lawyers who represent the officers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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