The New York Police Department has agreed to pay a hefty settlement to Karim Baker, a Fed Ex driver who unknowingly gave directions to a suspected cop killer.
The New York Daily News reports Baker sued the city months after he was allegedly beaten by two detectives. According to the outlet, the case stemmed from the murders of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were reportedly gunned down by Ismaaiyl Brinsley in 2014. The suspected killer died by suicide shortly after.
During the murder investigation, authorities discovered Brinsley had asked Baker for directions shortly after he opened fire on the cops. Baker and his attorney, Eric Subin, claim officers tried to track Baker down by flagging two of his cars—a claim the NYPD has denied. Though officers eventually contacted Baker, his legal team says his vehicles were never un-flagged, which resulted in continuous harassment.
Baker claims that in October 2015, Detectives Angelo J. Pampena and Robert A. Carbone had approached him and asked for identification. The plainclothes detectives accused Baker, who had just ended his work shift, of parking too close to a fire hydrant. When Baker pointed out that the hydrant was about 20 feet away from his vehicle, a physical altercation ensued.
"They began punching him, kicking him through the window up until they got his driver side door open," Subin told WLNY. "Mr. Baker was then grabbed by the two officers and thrown onto the curb, where they proceeded to punch him with haymakers; stomp on his head, and kick him until additional officers showed up."
Baker claimed his injuries were so severe, he had to undergo multiple surgeries and physical therapy. Pampena and Carbone were suspended and were hit with multiple charges, including second- and third-degree assault.
Per a 2016 Queens District Attorney's Office press release:
It is alleged that the actions of the two detectives caused Mr. Baker to suffer serious physical injuries.
According to the charges, Detective Pampena filed a sworn criminal court complaint with the Criminal Court of Queens County alleging that Mr. Baker was parked directly in front of a fire hydrant. Video evidence, however, allegedly showed that the vehicle was parked more than fifteen feet from the hydrant
Despite video evidence that refuted Pampena and Carbone's claims, they were ultimately acquitted in 2017.
According to the Daily News, NYC reached a $1.495 million settlement with Baker back in July. The Detectives Endowment Association—a union representing NYPD officers—called the agreement an "absurd amount of money." Sources say the union also covered the $4,500 for which Pampena and Carbone were personally responsible.
"[The detectives] were wrongfully accused, arrested and demoted for something they did not do," Michael Palladino, the head of the DEA, told the Daily News. "It’s a clear indication of how CCRB (Civilian Complaint Review Board) wastes taxpayer money."