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Know Your Rights
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Claiming Brutality, Family Plans to Sue NYPD

“We didn’t call you, you called us,” said the police
officer at the door in response Indhira Reyes’ confusion.

brother, Gamalier Reyes, 26, who is bipolar and schizophrenic, was unusually
disturbed after coming home from the airport early Saturday morning so she had
contacted his social worker to send an ambulance. To her surprise, Indhira
opened the door to eight police officers from Bushwick’s 83rd Precinct, some of
them wearing plastic gloves, who said they had come to take Gamalier to the

happened next is highly disputed.

In a press conference organized by Make the Road NY on Tuesday morning, the Reyes
family tearfully claimed Gamalier was beaten by six officers who entered their
home while two other policemen kept them in a neighbor’s apartment. About 50
demonstrators held large pictures of Gamalier’s swollen, purple face as family
members recounted the night’s events in front of the 83rd Precinct on Knickerbocker Avenue.

“He was
upset, but he wasn’t violent and we were forced out of the apartment after one
of the cops hit him with a baton,” said Zully de La Cruz, one of Gamalier’s
sisters. “All we could do was listen to him yelling and screaming for the
officers to stop hitting him.”

Gamalier is
currently at Woodhull Medical and Mental
Health Center

awaiting facial reconstructive surgery for a skull fracture and multiple bones
in his face. No criminal charges were filed against Gamalier and the Reyes
family announced they will sue the officers involved in the beating.

“He should
have been assisted, not assaulted,” De La Cruz added.

While NYPD
representatives did not speak during the press conference, Paul J. Browne, a
Police Department spokesman, released a statement Monday night saying Gamalier
was aggressive with the officers and attacked them when they tired to restrain

The New
York Times reported the NYPD was called by the social worker. When officers
arrived, Gamalier told them, “You’re going to have to kill me. I’m not going.”
In response, officers tried to subdue Gamalier, but he punched one in the face
and injured a second officer in the leg, sending one to the hospital – a claim
the Reyes family said was a lie.

incident happened around 2 a.m. Saturday morning, not long after Gamalier returned
early from a trip to the Dominican
, where his family said he was
involved in a minor scuffle. His mother, Ruth de Los Santos, said he was extremely agitated upon
his arrival and had not taken his medication that night.

Citing this
incident, along with the recent death of Bed-Stuy resident Iman Morales, Mary
Dougherty, a community organizer for Rights for Imprisoned People with
Psychiatric Disabilities, said New York City
needs to follow mental health initiatives similar to those in Chicago
and Memphis
where special Crisis Intervention Teams have been created to deal with
individuals suffering from mental illness.

“We have
been seeing an increasing number of people with mental disabilities being
mishandled by city authorities and it doesn’t seem like the NYPD and New York City want to
address these issues seriously,” Dougherty said.

to the RIPPD, the number of inmates with a mental illness in U.S.
penitentiaries has quadrupled over the last six years.