By Snejana Farberov
March 28, 2019
An independent oversight agency has launched an investigation into an NYPD officer who has been accused of beating up a woman in The Bronx so severely that she ended up losing an eye.
The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board's decision to probe the violent confrontation between Officer Theresa Lustica and Johanna Pagan-Alomar in June 2018 comes after the Internal Affairs Bureau cleared the cop of wrongdoing, reported the New York Daily News.
Meanwhile, Pagan-Alomar's attorney with the Legal Aid Society of New York has called on the Bronx District Attorney's Office to drop all charges against his client stemming from the altercation, and demanded that the NYPD immediately fire Lustica and criminally charge her.
'It is shameful that the Bronx District Attorney continues to drag this case on, and that Officer Lustica continues to walk the beat endangering the people of this community she supposedly serves,' attorney Nicolas Schumann-Ortega said in a statement.
According to a civil lawsuit Pagan-Alomar filed against Lustica, her partner, the NYPD and the City of New York in January, the female cop brutally attacked her and gouged her left eye with a key after the woman asked the officer why she was placing her boyfriend in handcuffs.
Lustica claimed that Pagan-Alomar shoved her and knocked her off balance, prompting an arrest.
A grainy surveillance video obtained by DailyMail.com from the Legal Aid Society shows Pagan-Alomar placing a hand on the officer's back, leading to a physical struggle between the two women.
Pagan-Alomar, however, has denied touching Lustica.
According to the woman's complaint, on the morning of June 7, Pagan-Alomar was approaching the corner of Burnside Avenue and Jermoe Avenue in The Bronx when she saw Lustica and her partner handcuffing her boyfriend, 35-year-old Andy Rodriguez.
Pagan-Alomar asked Lustica in Spanish why she was arresting the man, to which the cop responded by telling the woman to back up.
Lustica then picked up from the ground 'an empty small plastic bag' and told her 'this was why she was arresting' Rodriguez, the court papers state.
Lustica allegedly waved the bag in the woman's face, prompting Pagan-Alomar to say in Spanish, 'look at this one, the way she is disrespecting me.'
At that point, according to the complaint, Lustica pushed the woman's handcuffed boyfriend towards her partner, grabbed Pagan-Alomar's hand and threw her to the ground.
The mom-of-two was brought to a police station with her left eye hanging out of the socket and bleeding; she later lost the eye +6 The mom-of-two was brought to a police station with her left eye hanging out of the socket and bleeding; she later lost the eye
The lawsuit says Lustica pinned Pagan-Alomar to the sidewalk by sitting on top of her and restrained the woman's arms with her own legs, then proceeded to repeatedly punch her in her left eye.
As she was hitting Pagan-Alomar in the left side of her face with her fists, the officer allegedly had in one of her hands the key to the handcuffs.
Throughout the ordeal, the lawsuit claims, Lustica's partner made no attempt to stop the beating.
Pagan-Alomar was eventually handcuffed and taken to the 46th Precinct, where she was charged with second-degree assault.
'At this point, plaintiff's left eye was hanging out of its socket, and there was blood coming out of her left eye socket,' the complaint states
Pagan-Alomar was taken from the police station to a nearby hospital and later transferred to Bronx Lebanon Hospital to be treated for severe injuries to her eye and face.
Despite doctors' efforts, the patient's eye could not be saved during her five-day stay at the hospital.
In late August, the woman underwent surgery to remove her raptured left globe, leaving her partially blind and allegedly suffering from mental anguish.
In a statement, the NYPD said of the altercation: '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.'
Ten months after the incident, charges of assault, harassment and obstructing governmental administration are still pending against Pagan-Alomar.
On Monday, Pagan-Alomar's Legal Aid attorney sent a letter to Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, asking him to 'immediately dismiss the charges against her, and to charge Officer Lustica criminally for this horrific assault.'
The letter also quoted a medical expert who reviewed Pagan-Alomar's records and suggested that police waited too long to seek help for her, and that 'earlier intervention' possibly could have resulted in a different outcome for her eye.
Clarks' office responded by saying that it is looking into the allegation of excessive force against Lustica, and that is welcomes 'the cooperation of the defendant in this matter.'