The Legal Aid Society is calling on the Bronx district attorney to drop charges against one of its clients, citing that an officer attacked her and caused serious injury to her eye.
Johanna Pagan-Alomar says her eye came out of its socket after a violent altercation with a police officer last summer.
She says she saw police officers arresting her friend on the corner of Jerome and Burnside avenues in June. The mother of two says she was asking why her friend was being arrested when Officer Theresa Lustica "aggressively" waved a small empty plastic bag in her face.
A video shows Lustica walking away, and Pagan-Alomar raising her hand toward the officer. Things then turned violent.
Pagan-Alomar says she was punched in the eye with the officer's handcuff keys, but police say that's not confirmed.
The NYPD said in a statement: “Ms. Pagan physically accosted a uniformed police officer, from behind, without provocation, while the officer was effecting an arrest for heroin possession. The Internal Affairs Bureau conducted an investigation and determined that the officer's actions were appropriate under the circumstances and neither excessive nor unnecessary."
"I don't understand how they could possibly make that conclusion or draw that conclusion when my client's eye was taken out of its socket,” says Legal Aid Society attorney Nicolas Schumann-Ortega.
Pagan-Alomar is now facing misdemeanor charges, including assault and obstructing governmental administration.
The Legal Aid Society wants the district attorney to not only drop her charges, but to charge the officer involved. It is also calling on the NYPD to fire Lustica and discipline her partner, Officer Konti Markvukaj, for not intervening.
Police sources say the officer's actions were driven by Pagan-Alomar's interference in a lawful arrest and attack on the officer.
"It does not show my client pushing the officer, it does not show the officer falling off balance, it does not support the officer's version of events in any way, shape, or form, and it certainly does not justify what happened afterwards,” says Schumann-Ortega.
Schumann-Ortega says his client has to endure physical and mental trauma for the rest of her life.
The Bronx District Attorney’s Office told News 12 it is looking into the allegation of excessive force, and welcomes the cooperation of the defendant in this matter.