Lawsuit filed against APD, city

AMSTERDAM — A city resident has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Amsterdam and two of its police officers alleging his civil rights were violated.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court of New York by Albany-based attorney Vincent Uba on behalf of city resident Ryan Bergh. The lawsuit alleges Bergh was subject to racial discrimination at the hands of Amsterdam police officers Jeff Lisicki and V.J. Rathore, as well as violations of his 14th amendments rights to due process and equal protection under the law, as well as his fourth amendment protections against unreasonable search. The lawsuit states Lisicki and Rathore engaged in a conspiracy to deprive Bergh of his federal civil rights and the city of Amsterdam is responsible for Lisicki and Rathore’s actions.

Bergh, who according to the lawsuit is “a child of mixed race union,” had been living with his girlfriend, Angela Damiano, her father, Tom Damiano, and Angela’s sister, Michelle Damiano. The lawsuit decribes the three as “White/Caucasian.”

According to the lawsuit, on Nov. 9, 2015, a package was left at the house that they lived in. There was no name on the package. The family determined the package was marijuana in a five-gallon bucket.

According to the lawsuit, Tom Damiano first called the New York state Police in an attempt to report the package, but was told to call the Amsterdam Police Department.

Bergh then allegedly left the house and the package was placed outside. When Bergh returned to the home, he alleges in the lawsuit that Lisicki and Rathore were at the house and the contents of the package had disappeared.

According to the lawsuit, the two police officers then left the house and Bergh went inside to discuss things with the Damaiano family, and it was then that Bergh noticed the officers were still outside. Upon going back outside to speak to them, Bergh alleges in the lawsuit Lisicki had opened up the trunk of his car without permission or a warrant and Rathore was acting as a lookout.

The lawsuit alleges Bergh then demanded to know what the police officers were doing and then this exchange took place:

Lisicki: “Shut the [expletive] up or I will have you arrested right now.”

Bergh: “Arrest me for what, I didn’t do anything wrong?

Lisicki: “Shut up! This is why nothing never got done for you when your dog got shot.”

Bergh: “Are you [expletive] serious Jeff?”

Lisicki: “Really Ryan? What are you going to do, go whine and bitch to a sergeant like you always do? No one is going to help you down there, this is why when your dog got shot, nothing was done.”

According to the lawsuit, the incident with the dog referred to by the two men happened a few months prior, and involved Bergh’s dog having been shot by one of his “White/Caucasian” neighbors. The suit alleges Lisicki had been the officer assigned to the case and did not provide adequate legal protections for Bergh due to racial prejudice.

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages against the officers and the city and attorney’s fees.

By Patricia Older

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