Jury clears NY police in man's sodomy lawsuit

A jury on Monday rejected claims by a Wall Street financial worker that he was sodomized by police officers responding to a report of a domestic disturbance at his apartment.

The jurors reached the verdict in an excessive-force lawsuit brought by Ralph Johnson — a case that recalled the more notorious cases of a Brooklyn tattoo parlor employee in 2008 and Haitian immigrant Abner Louima a decade earlier.

The Manhattan jury found in favor of Johnson on allegations he was wrongfully prosecuted for resisting arrest in the 2004 incident and awarded him $20,000.

City attorneys said they were pleased with the jury's decision.

"There was virtually no evidence that the officers acted inappropriately," city attorney Sumit Sud said in a statement.

A phone message left with Johnson's attorney on Monday wasn't immediately returned.

Johnson, 40, had testified that he was working at an investment banking firm in the summer of 2004 when a night out drinking with his live-in girlfriend spiraled out of control.

The girlfriend blew up because he spoke to another woman at a Manhattan nightspot. When she began breaking windows in their Bronx apartment, he threw her out.

About a half-dozen officers showed up shortly after midnight in response to neighbors' 911 calls and broke down the door. Once inside, Johnson said, "They threw me on the ground, face first."

He continued: "When I was face down ... my legs were held, and I felt a sharp jabbing pain into my rectum."

The officers told a different story: They said Johnson ignored repeated orders to show his hands and stand and resisted when they tried to pull him up. The retractable baton was used only to pry his arms into position to be handcuffed, the officers said.

The girlfriend refused to press domestic-violence charges against Johnson, but authorities still pursued a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest against him — the basis of the malicious-prosecution claim. Johnson was acquitted at trial.

In the civil case, Johnson's lawyers introduced as evidence lab results confirming his DNA was on a skinny, retractable police baton — the type of instrument central to the 2008 Brooklyn case involving Michael Mineo.

Mineo said he was assaulted during his arrest on a subway platform. The allegation resulted in criminal charges against three patrolmen and comparisons to Louima, whose attack by a broomstick-wielding officer in a police station bathroom in 1997 ranks among the worst scandals in New York Police Department history.

The officers in the Mineo case were acquitted, but he has pursued a lawsuit against one in a civil case now on trial in Brooklyn.