A gay man who was left blind in one eye after a brutal beating by a Hasidic safety patrol claims police tried to cover it up due to a “special connection” with the NYPD that reaches all the way to an ongoing corruption probe.
According to the New York Daily News, Taj Patterson filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against New York City, the police department and the Williamsburg Safety Patrol as well as a related organization known as the Shmira Volunteer Patrol Corp.
In 2013, 25-year-old Patterson was assaulted by a group of five men, leaving him with a broken eye socket and a torn retina blinding him in one eye. According to police reports, Patterson had been accused of damaging cars in the Williamsburg neighborhood before he was set upon by the men who held him down and punched and kicked him before fleeing.
Despite statements from witnesses who saw the beating, the investigation was shut down within 24 hours, with the case marked, ”final, no arrests, CLOSED,” and was only reopened after Patterson’s mother badgered the department to do something.
According to the lawsuit, Patterson claims the police did not act promptly to arrest the assailants because of an ongoing corruption investigation involving police officials performing favors for Jewish businessmen in exchange for gifts.
The suit also notes the special relationship between the NYPD and neighborhood watch organization, with the group being awarded over $1 million through the years for equipment like bulletproof vests, police radios, and two $300,000 “command vehicles.”
“Shomrim members have readily been allowed access to areas of NYPD precincts not ordinarily open to the public,” the lawsuit claims. “The safety patrol virtually replaces the official police in parts of Williamsburg.”
The suspects, Abraham Winkler, Aharon Hollender, Mayer Herskovic, Joseph Fried and Pinchas Braver were all eventually arrested on assault charges, with charges dropped against Hollender and Fried.
Winkler and Braver pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and are awaiting sentencing while Herskovic’s case remains open.