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$117,000 Settlement by New York Police for Excessive-Force “Replica Gun” Wrongful Arrests and Detentions

Guillermo Zavalas, his wife Ileana, and two other families in the same apartment building have settled their federal civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the City of New York, the New York City Police Department, and various individual officers, according to their attorneys, Jeffrey A. Rothman and Ronald L. Kuby.

The plaintiffs were asleep in their apartments when New York City police broke down their apartment doors, and accosted and arrested members of the three families, most of whom were in bedclothes or their underwear. When the heavily-armed officers screamed their demands to be shown any guns on the premises, they were shown replica, non-operable collectible copies of weapons. Despite the fact that the replicas were clearly not firearms, the Zavalas and the other plaintiffs, as alleged in their lawsuit, were roughly handled by the arresting officers, tightly handcuffed, and their homes ransacked. Taken to jail, some of the plaintiffs were unable to make bail, and further alleged that police authorities delayed revealing that the confiscated items were inoperable collectibles, resulting in them being in police custody for an inordinate amount of time.

The complaint alleged not only violations of plaintiffs’ federal constitutional rights, but also violation of various New York constitutional protections, as well as false arrest and trespassing. Plaintiffs settled their lawsuit for varying amounts, depending upon the damages allegedly suffered, for a total of $117,000.

Mr. Zavalas received $17,000 and his wife received $7,000. Plaintiff Angel Zavalas was awarded $30,000. Gregory and Tiffany Negron and their child received $7,000 each. Elijah Irlanda and Cynthia Irlanda received $35,000 and $7,000, respectively. As part of the settlement, the defendants did not admit any wrongdoing. See: Zavalas, et al. v. City of New York, et al., 9 CV 7694, (So. Dist. NY, 2014).

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Related legal case

Zavalas, et al. v. City of New York, et al.