By PoliceOne Staff
PATERSON, N.J. — A civil rights lawsuit was filed in federal court last week against nine of the city’s police officers for an incident that unfolded after a bar fight in 2011.
Alexis Aponte, 30, and Migual Rivera, 32, got into an altercation at bar with several patrons and bouncers and were physically removed by Officer Jose Torres, who was off-duty at the time, according to NJ.com.
Torres claims that during the confrontation, Aponte shot at him — an allegation lawyer Darren Del Sardo denies, though he admits Aponte may have pulled out a gun and aimed it at the bar’s bouncer.
Outside, Rivera allegedly threatened Torres, saying “You don’t know what you got yourself into, you’re (expletive) dead,” according to the report.
Torres called police, who dispatched several officers to the bar’s location. Video shows several officers surround Rivera's vehicle with guns drawn, and two plainclothes officers open the passenger door before an unidentified man pulls Aponte out of the vehicle.
Aponte was handcuffed shortly after he was thrown to the ground, according to the lawsuit, which also claims both men complied with the officers’ orders.
"Officers that are coming to the scene and have no idea what’s going on are just running up and taking their free shots at him," Del Sardo said.
In the report, police said that they seized a handgun from the car and that Aponte and Rivera were resisting arrest. Both men claim that they were also robbed of about $900 and jewelry.
Rivera suffered a fractured orbital bone and a concussion from the incident, Del Sardo said. Aponte suffered bruised ribs and multiple lacerations.
Aponte is serving a four-year sentence on a weapons charge and Rivera is on probation, according to the report.