The cop accused of roughing up and tasing an 85-pound Staten Island man has been sued four times for his involvement in alleged beatings and false arrests, court records show.
Officer Vincenzo Trabolse was caught on camera punching and tasing William Colon, who suffers from a host of health problems, during a violent arrest at Colon's home last month. Colon stands just 4-foot-8 and was in a hospital for five days after the incident.
Since 2009, Trabolse has been named as a defendant in four federal lawsuits filed by New Yorkers who said they were mistreated by police. The complaints include allegations of physical abuse and false arrests by Trabolse and other officers.
All four cases ended in settlements, with the city agreeing to pay a total of $77,500 to the plaintiffs. One was settled for $35,000 about three weeks before the Sept. 28 incident involving Colon.
The city denied the allegations in court filings. But the complaints show Trabolse had a troubling history leading up to his brutal treatment of Colon, said Christopher Pisciotta, attorney-in-charge of the Legal Aid Society's Staten Island criminal defense practice. He repeated his call for the NYPD to fire Trabolse.
"I find it appalling and disheartening that NYPD had a known violent and dishonest police officer and continued to put him out on the streets," said Pisciotta, whose group is representing Colon.
The NYPD did not respond to emailed questions about the lawsuits on Tuesday. The department has said there is an internal affairs investigation into Trabolse's alleged pummeling of Colon.
Trabolse and several other cops were accused of a similarly rough arrest in a 2009 suit filed by Luis Figueroa. The officers tackled Figueroa, handcuffed him and dragged him out of his Staten Island home on Dec. 1, 2007, the complaint says.
One cop struck Figueroa in the eye after he asked why he was being arrested and asked to speak with a police supervisor, the suit says. The officers then kicked Figueroa and beat him on his head, face and back while he was handcuffed, the lawsuit says.
Figueroa was treated for his injuries at a hospital and then taken to the 120th Precinct, where he was "illegally strip searched," the complaint says. The cops' actions led Figueroa to be prosecuted until the charges against him were dismissed, according to the suit, which does not specify what charges he faced.
The city agreed to pay Figueroa $20,000 and he agreed to drop the case in a settlement filed in May 2010, court records show.
In a June 2016 complaint, Dante Daniels, a Staten Island man with cerebral palsy, accused Trabolse and another cop of beating him and painfully forcing his arms behind his back when they cuffed him in July 2015.
Trabolse punched Daniels in the face after ignoring his request that his hands be cuffed in front of him because of his disability, according to the suit. The city argued Daniels "provoked any incident" and that any force the cops used was "reasonable, justified, and necessary," a court filing says.
The city agreed to pay Daniels $35,000 in exchange for the lawsuit's dismissal in a settlement filed on Sept. 5 of this year.
Koron Tarantola of Staten Island brought the most recent complaint against Trabolse in January 2017, accusing him and other cops of accosting and falsely arresting him in October 2013. Tarantola's lawsuit was initially filed in September 2015.
The cops made "false representations," including that he possessed marijuana, to back up charges against Tarantola, the complaint says. He was charged with low-level pot possession but was acquitted after trial in March 2014, according to the complaint.
Tarantola agreed to drop the suit in exchange for a $15,000 payment from the city in a Feburary 2017 settlement, records show.
Trabolse was accused in another false arrest in a February 2015 complaint. It says Trabolse and other cops ordered Ruben Sanchez out of his car on Staten Island in January 2013 and cuffed him even though they found no evidence of a crime, the suit says.
The cops fille out "false and/or misleading police reports" that led Sanchez to be charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, the suit says. The cops also "repeatedly gave false and misleading testimony" about Sanchez's arrest, the complaint says, but the charges against him were dismissed in May 2014.
The suit was settled for $7,500, a Law Department spokesman said. It was dismissed in September 2015.
In court filings responding to the lawsuits, city lawyers defended the cops and said there was probable cause for all four men's arrests and prosecutions. In three of the cases, lawyers argued the cops and the city couldn't be blamed for the plaintiffs' injuries.