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A gay New York City resident is suing the NYPD for $6 million after officers allegedly beat him while using homophobic slurs.
James Rolkiewicz lives in Staten Island, according to the New York Daily News, but was hanging out in Manhattan’s gay-friendly West Village neighborhood when he began to have an asthma attack. The Daily News reported that Rolkiewicz sat on the steps of a local business, trying to find his inhaler, when a patrol car stopped and police began to harass him.
According to the lawsuit, the officers “repeatedly called him ‘a f**king f*ggot’ while demanding his identification, while plaintiff was having an asthma attack.”
Rolkiewicz said he could not comply with the officers’ requests because he was struggling to breathe and searching for his inhaler. But that only made the police angry.
The lawsuit alleges that Rolkiewicz was “brutally handled, punched, kicked, abusively treated, placed in a chokehold, handcuffed and choked until he lost consciousness.” He spent two days in custody, part of which was to treat his police-inflicted injuries at Bellevue Hospital.
The Daily Dot called the office of Rolkiewicz’s attorney, Pamela Roth, but the phone had been disconnected. An email request for more information did not get an immediate response.
The NYPD told the Daily News it was “reviewing the complaint.”
The West Village area where Rolkiewicz was arrested is well known as a popular LGBT destination; the Stonewall Inn national landmark is located in the neighborhood near where Rolkiewicz was allegedly beaten by homophobic police.
“He specifically made that a point, because he kept calling me a ‘f**king f*ggot,'” Rolkiewicz told the Daily News of one officer’s aggression. “If you have this problem with gay people, how are you an officer in the Village?”
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.