BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) - New York City police crushed the larynx of a Queens County Supreme Court judge with a karate chop and then conspired to cover up the attack, the judge claims in Federal Court.
Queens County Supreme Court Judge Thomas D. Raffaele, 70, claims in a $300,000 lawsuit that the New York City Police Department and Queens District Attorney's office conspired to cover up the June 1, 2012 attack on him in Jackson Heights.
In the 43-page lawsuit, Raffaele claims he went to help a homeless man in the neighborhood who was being attacked by police.
Raffaele says he heard the handcuffed homeless man pleading with unknown officers, "I beg you please stop, I beg you please stop," while police assaulted him in front of a swelling crowd.
Raffaele says he called police and urged the crowd to move away from the man being assaulted.
He claims police arrived and threatened many in the crowd who were filming the attack with cell phones. He says police threatened local shop owners not to provide security footage of the incident.
An unknown officer "charged up" to the judge, shoved him and then "using a karate chop-like" hit him in the neck, Raffaele says in the complaint.
He claims police refused to take an official statement from him that he had been attacked, and then tried to hide the unknown officer's identity.
The judge says he went to the hospital that night and was diagnosed with a crushed larynx.
One month later, Raffaele says, he met with the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, Queens County Assistant District Attorney Daniel O'Leary and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau. He says assistant District Attorney Peter A. Crusco told him, "There was not enough evidence to prosecute," though the entire incident was caught on security cameras.
Raffaele says the DA's office was told that he had aggressively charged into the perimeter of a crime scene, that an officer merely touched him once on the chest and that the reason his throat hurt was because he was yelling during the incident.
The Queens District Attorney's Office issued a statement in August 2012 that Raffaele had entered the "safety perimeter that police officers attempted to establish around the incident" and merely tried to separate him from the growing crowd, according to the lawsuit.
Raffaele claims Commissioner Ray Kelly failed to investigate the incident "after stating to the press that he would 'check into it.'"
Although Kelly was quoted in The New York Times as saying that an investigation was ongoing, Raffaele claims Kelly never contacted him.
He seeks $300,000 for conspiracy, unreasonable force, battery and violations of his constitutional rights.
He is represented by Barak P. Cardenas with Cardenas Islam & Associates.