In the above video, we see 19-year-old Luis Solivan on the floor of his family apartment, with two NYPD officers on top of him, as one officer repeatedly punches him in the face. The violent, upsetting footage may play a crucial role in Solivan’s recently-filed lawsuit against the city, which alleges that the officers used excessive force against the Bronx resident. Solivan was originally charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer, but the case was thrown out when his lawyers presented the video to a grand jury.
The lawsuit alleges that Solivan was walking home after buying cigarrettes, “unarmed and not engaged in unlawful activity,” when a police car made a sharp U-turn towards him. Solivan became paranoid and ran towards his apartment, the suit alleges, when the police chased him inside, grabbed him, and began to beat him. According to Ilann M. Maazel, Solivan’s lawyer, in addition to the violence captured on video, the two officers also banged Solivan’s head against a wall and continued to hit him after taking him to the police department.
Two facts about the case complicate things further. The first, and perhaps most important, is that Thomas Dekoker, one of the officers named in the suit, was also a defendant in an excessive force suit in 2008. The jury awarded $500,000 to that case’s plaintiff. The second is that Solivan was awaiting sentencing for attempted murder at the time, a charge for which he was later sentenced to probation.
Whatever the circumstances, watching the above video, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which it was necessary for the officer to punch Solivan in the face after getting him to the ground.