BRIDGEPORT, April 9, 2014 – The City of Stamford has agreed to pay a Norwalk woman $230,000 as the result of a 2009 case of police brutality.
Atty. Antonio Ponvert III, of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, today announced that the $230,000 out-of-court settlement resolves a lawsuit filed against the City of Stamford and Stamford police officer Greg Zach on behalf of a longtime Norwalk resident.
According to the Complaint filed in Stamford Superior Court in June 2009, Brenda Mazariegos was attempting to enter the parking lot of her employer, The Palms Nightclub, a longtime downtown Stamford business co-owned by her husband, when, with no justification whatsoever, Stamford Police Officer Greg Zach ordered her out of her car, punched her in the face with a closed fist, then left her bleeding, crying and shackled in a swelteringly police cruiser. Finally, other officers took Ms. Mazariegos to the Stamford Hospital Emergency Department, where she was treated for serious wounds to her head and face.
Ponvert filed the lawsuit in Stamford Superior Court in 2011. A trial in the case resulted in a hung jury at the end of 2013. A second trial was slated to begin this month.
According to the Complaint, Brenda Mazariegos and her friend and fellow employee Sandra Solis were attempting to park in The Palms parking lot when Officer Zach refused to grant them access – even after Sandra’s husband Nelson Solis told the officer that he co-owned The Palms with Brenda’s husband and that the women had the right to park there. Sandra had been driving when Officer Zach first stopped them, but she left the car to find her husband.
After ordering Brenda to get behind the wheel, the Complaint alleges, Officer Zach demanded to see Brenda’s driver’s license, which she had left at home. When Brenda failed to produce her license, Zach ordered her out of the car and brutally assaulted her. Brenda is five feet tall. Officer Zach is six feet.
With a closed fist, Zach viciously and repeatedly punched Brenda in the head, face, neck and shoulders, the Complaint alleges.
“This vicious and unjustified assault is every citizen’s worst fear about a police force run amok. Officer Zach’s excessive force against a tiny woman should have landed him in jail. Instead he is back on the job, wearing a uniform and carrying a gun, being paid at taxpayer’s expense. It’s a travesty,” Ponvert said.
“It is only a matter of time,” Ponvert added, “before the Stamford Police Department’s failure to properly train and supervise its rogue officers costs another law-abiding citizen her health and safety, maybe even her life, and costs the city’s residents another quarter million dollar legal settlement.”
The lawsuit alleges that Zach’s assault caused Brenda to suffer a “hematoma on her forehead the size of an orange.”
“For months after Zach’s violent assault,” the lawsuit said, “Brenda could not stay in her house alone for fear that Zach might come to hurt her.”
“Due to Officer Zach’s false statements about Brenda’s behavior on the day he beat and arrested her, she was wrongfully charged with breach of peace, interference with an officer, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer,” the lawsuit said. All those charges were subsequently dropped.
The lawsuit accused the Stamford Police Department of inadequately training its officers and supervisors, failing to “properly evaluate and assign Officer Zach in light of previous incidents and complaints” and failing to terminate Zach as a result of previous incidents and complaints. Specifically, according to the lawsuit, prior to his assault on Brenda, Zach had a well-documented history of sustained citizen complaints for verbal abuse and other threatening misconduct toward Stamford citizens, including women and children. He remains an officer with the Stamford Police Department.
Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder has offices in Bridgeport, Danbury, New Haven and Stamford. The nationally known law firm has achieved record-breaking verdicts for people who have suffered serious personal injuries and economic harm from medical malpractice, violation of their civil rights, dangerous products, negligence, drunk drivers, corporate and governmental abuse, and commercial misconduct. www.koskoff.com.
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