One Police Plaza

$150,000 Says City Is Beaten

November 27, 1995

The city has agreed to pay $150,000 to an attorney who says he was beaten by Police Officer Stuart Goldstein inside the Midtown North stationhouse after he tried to serve Goldstein with a summons.

The settlement was offered last week, after a jury began deliberating the attorney's lawsuit against Goldstein and the city.

The alleged beating occurred on Oct. 3, 1989, when Jonathan Herzog, then a student at Fordham Law School, attempted to serve the summons for a court case. Herzog testified that Goldstein, who stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 225 pounds, rammed his head against a wall, then dropped him, screaming, "I'm going to kill you."

Herzog, who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds, fled, pursued by Goldstein, who arrested him and charged him with assault, harassment and resisting arrest. For the next seven hours, Herzog was locked inside a cell at Midtown North. He was transferred downtown to Central Booking before being released at midnight when the Manhattan district attorney declined to prosecute.

Herzog then filed a civil lawsuit against Goldstein for false arrest. But for four years, his lawyer Robert Polstein charged, the city refused to produce relevant documents. One document that was produced stated that after Herzog filed a complaint with the then Internal Affairs Division in 1991, IAD sent an undated form letter saying it would take no action against Goldstein.

Another document contained Goldstein's personnel file. It showed that Goldstein, a 26-year veteran, had 13 civilian complaints, including six for unnecessary use of force. None was substantiated.

Department officials acknowledge that no mechanism existed to track such errant cops. "We're taking a much closer look now at cops' histories," says Chief of Personnel Michael Markman. "We're sharing information rather than having each unit working independently as in the past."

Nonetheless, Goldstein, who testified that Herzog attacked him and not vice versa, can be found back at Midtown North, working his regular 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. tour.

A little white "testilie"? At one of Police Commissioner William Bratton's increasingly rare news conferences, he passed out copies of a recent speech he made at Harvard Law School (as well as articles about it in the Boston papers) about the department's persistent perjury problem, known as "testilying." Then the commissioner demonstrated exactly what he meant. He may have done a little testilying himself. Or maybe he was simply uninformed.

Asked by reporters some 10 days ago about a problem closer to home - the refusal of some NYPD cops to issue parking tickets in a wildcat slowdown - Bratton said he wasn't concerned and termed the slowdown "sporadic," "unorganized" and "isolated."

Twice last week, though, precinct commanders were summoned to One Police Plaza and ordered to crack down on the slowdown, which department officials acknowleged had spread from Brooklyn into Queens and Staten Island.

Banned. As long as anyone can remember, the Police Department trial room, on the fourth floor of Police Plaza, has been open to the public. But Wednesday, a reporter standing outside the trial room interviewing attorney Bonita Zelman about one of her cop defendants was ordered to leave the floor.

An embarrassed sergeant, following orders of Lt. Robert Seignius of Building Security, said that without prior approval from the department's Public Information Office, reporters were no longer allowed on the fourth floor.

Seignius says the policy was instituted earlier this year after reporters ganged up on Chief of Internal Affairs Patrick Kelleher like paparazzi, after the Washington, D.C., bacchanal in which drunken cops frightened guests at a number of hotels. Contrary to popular belief, which held that Public Information's Deputy Commissioner Tom Kelly initiated the order, Seignius says it came straight from the PC, meaning Bratton.

Seen. Det. Kim Royster, belting out the national anthem in her first singing appearance at Police Plaza since being banished in February, along with 25 other cops from the Public Information Office, for providing Commissioner Bratton with too much favorable publicity.

Unseen. The few thousand or so members of the Guardians, the association of black police officers who didn't vote in the group's elections last week. Eric Sanders was elected president with only 420 members - out of a claimed membership of some 4,000 - voting.

The organization's prayer breakfast the previous Sunday at Harlem's All Saint's Roman Catholic Church was even more sparsely attended. Except for Assistant Chief Benny Foster, no top cops or deputy commissioners showed.

©1995 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.