The family of a Pelham Bay man who died after being Tasered twice by a NYPD sergeant plan to sue the city for $10 million.
On Monday, January 30, the family of Ariel Galarza filed a notice of claim accusing the city of negligence in its ability to handle situations involving mentally or emotionally disturbed people.
The family’s lawyer Sanford Rubenstein said the notice of claim filed against the city and the NYPD is based on the negligence, carelessness and recklessness of the NYPD, sergeant William Melrose and other NYPD members in causing Galarza’s wrongful death.
The notice of claim is the first step before a lawsuit can be initiated.
As previously reported, 45th Precinct police officers responded on Wednesday, November 2 at 5:35 p.m. to a call of an emotionally disturbed man armed with a knife behaving violently at 1840 Mayflower Avenue.
Upon arrival, three uniformed officers and a sergeant were confronted by Galarza, 49, who allegedly threatened them with an intact glass bottle when they entered his basement apartment inside the multi-family, 2-story house.
Sergeant Melrose, a 13-year veteran, discharged his Taser at Galarza who fell to the floor, but quickly recovered and continued to struggle with officers attempting to restrain him.
A second Taser jolt was delivered by Melrose by pressing the device directly against Galarza’s body, an approved NYPD tactic called ‘dry stun’.
While in custody, Galarza entered cardiac arrest, however police were able to administer CPR.
Galarza was rushed to Albert Einstein Hospital where he died at 7:22 p.m.
Rubenstein is claiming that Galarza being Tasered twice violated the NYPD Patrol Guide.
“It’s prohibited for police to Tase someone who’s already in distress and there’s also the issue of whether the police followed protocol in appropriately isolating Galarza until EMS arrived,” said Rubenstein.
The NYPD Patrol Guide states in cases of mentally ill or emotionally disturbed persons, physical force will only be used to the extent necessary to restrain the subject until delivered to a hospital or detention facility.
It also states Tasers should only be used against persons actively resisting, exhibiting active aggression or to prevent individuals from injuring themselves or others present.
A NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner spokeswoman said Galarza’s cause of death is still under investigation.
The incident is being investigated by the Force Investigation Division pending determination of Galarza’s death.
The use of a Taser will be included in the Force Investigation Division’s investigation.
Sergeant Melrose remains on active duty at the precinct.
According to neighbors and published reports, Galarza struggled with learning disabilities, a mild form of asthma and suffered a stroke early last year.
He was waked at Parkchester Funeral Home on Tuesday, November 15 and laid to rest at St. Raymond’s Cemetery the following day.
NYS Attorney General Schneiderman’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit is investigating Galarza’s death under the state’s executive order granting the AG the authority to prosecute cases of unarmed civilians who die during confrontations with police.