NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A retired Nassau County corrections officer claims he was beaten by officers in a case of mistaken identity.
Ronald Lanier said he was shopping in the Western Beef Supermarket in Mineola on Nov. 30 when he was tackled, handcuffed and beaten by officers with the Garden City Police Department.
“I’ve never been cursed, physically abused, beaten and treated like a slave as I was two days ago,” Lanier said, breaking down as he described how he landed in handcuffs and in a hospital. “For somebody to grab me by the neck in the supermarket, and I’m telling you, ‘I’m one of you,’ and you disrespect it — it was like you’re just another black dude.”
“They cursed at him, they abused him verbally, they then start to beat him,” his attorney, Fred Brewington, told 1010 WINS. “He was taking blows with his hands cuffed behind him as he laid facedown.”
Lanier, who retired after two decades as a Nassau County corrections officer, claims he complied and explained to the officers that he was law enforcement, but they just laughed.
The officers, who are white, claimed they were searching for a black shoplifting suspect, who was later apprehended on the roof of the building.
“They didn’t have a good description of who they were looking for. That doesn’t give you the right to go into a store and grab the first black person you see and throw them to the ground,” his attorney, Fred Brewington, told 1010 WINS. “The fact that he happened to be a black male in the store does not make him a culprit, it does not make him a suspect.”
Lanier intends to sue the Garden City Police Department, accusing them of violating his civil rights. He wants the officers stripped of their badges.
“I’m tired of hearing officers constantly talking about we have to retrain. We don’t have to retrain, we got to let them be held accountable for their actions,” Lanier said. “Imagine if I had my gun at that time. It could have went either way.”
“We are hoping Garden City Police Department will come forward with respect, identifying their officers, disciplining their officers,” said Dennis Jones, with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
The Garden City Police Department declined to share its side of the story with CBS2, but provided context, saying they were chasing a fleeing shoplifting suspect who abandoned a getaway car on the railroad tracks and fled into the supermarket, Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Brewington said his client spent 20 minutes inside a squad car before he was let go without receiving an apology.
“The sergeant, without any apology or any other way of making it clear that they were acknowledging the mistake that they had made, just said cut him loose,” Brewington said.
Western Beef does have interior security cameras, but would not share the video with CBS2.