NEW YORK – A man who was shot many times by New York City police officers last year during a fight over a gun at a Harlem block party has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department.
Angel Alvarez, who was hit by at least 15 bullets and spent six months in jail as a grand jury investigated the mayhem, was cleared of all criminal charges. The grand jury also declined to indict the officers involved in the August 2010 shooting that left one person dead and six wounded.
Police are still reviewing the shooting and didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday about Alvarez's lawsuit. Alvarez's attorney, Matthew Galluzzo, said the lawsuit spoke for itself.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in the U.S. Southern District of New York, alleges that police "unjustly riddled (Alvarez) with bullets as he was attending a block party"; and that his rights were "further violated when he was arrested and held for a total of 200 days in jail on account of a police version of the shooting."
Police said officers opened fire after the 24-year-old Alvarez shot at them during the Aug. 8 violence as hundreds of people left a block party in Harlem.
But Alvarez has denied firing at anyone, claiming instead that he had wrestled a gun away from a man named Luis Soto, who pulled the weapon during what Alvarez thought was a fistfight.
Responding police officers discharged 46 rounds, killing Soto and wounding a fellow officer and others.
In his complaint, Alvarez said police continued firing at him even after he had collapsed to the ground and that one of the officers "kicked him in the head with a boot" and taunted him.
Alvarez suffered bullet wounds across his body, including in his lower back, chest, side, left forearm, neck and jaw, the lawsuit said. Bullets and bullet fragments are still lodged in his body. The lawsuit said he has "as many as" 27 bullet wounds.