Two Queens detectives already facing felony charges for lies and misconduct are once again being sued for allegedly fabricating evidence.
Last week, Queens man Anthony Lopez filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court alleging that Detectives Kevin Desormeau and Sasha Neve planted cocaine and heroin in his apartment in 2014. Lopez maintained at the time that he'd been set up, but says he was strong-armed into accepting a misdemeanor charge, which cost him his job as a Department of Education administrator and youth basketball coach.
Lopez decided to bring the lawsuit, his attorney Peter Brill told Gothamist, after reading that Desormeau and Neve, two of the five detectives who raided his home, had been indicted on similar charges in February.
"He was looked up to in the community, doing well for himself, and it really derailed them," Brill, who also represented Lopez in 2014, told Gothamist. "Then he saw the same officers in the paper and he called me up and said, 'Hey remember the officers I said planted the drugs, they're in the paper today.'"
Earlier this year, both Desormeau and Neve were arrested on official misconduct and filing a false instrument charges relating to a 2014 gun possession arrest in Washington Heights. Desormeau, who was also slapped with perjury charges, "invented [the story] out of thin air — in gross violation of [his] training," Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said at the time.
The two have also been named in four recent federal civil rights lawsuits, all of which the city has agreed to settle. In a different 2014 instance, a man named Roosevelt McCoy said that the two detectives pulled him out of a restaurant in Jamaica, Queens and charged him with selling drugs—despite not finding drugs on him. McCoy, unable to make bail, spent 52 days on Rikers Island, and the Queens District Attorney's office dropped the charges 19 months later.
The city agreed to pay out $547,500 in that case, and has settled at least three other suits against Neve and/or Desormeau for undisclosed amounts of money. A spokesperson for the NYPD said in a statement that the indictments against the two detectives "demonstrate how seriously the Department takes this issue," and that "officers are taught that they will face serious consequences, including dismissal, arrest and prosecution, for intentionally testifying falsely."
Details related by Lopez echo many of the previous claims brought against the detectives. According to the suit, a confidential informant, working on behalf of Desormeau and Neve, provided perjured testimony to a judge in order to secure a "no knock" warrant. On the morning of July 17th, 2014, when Lopez and his teenage son were still sleeping, Neve and Desormeau burst into his Jamaica, Queens home, according to the suit. Officers claimed they found narcotics, drug paraphernalia and firearms, and subsequently arrested Lopez.
According to Brittle, the handgun and shotgun belonged to the recently incarcerated relative of a family friend, who'd contacted Lopez about how best to legally dispose of them. Lopez then reached out to a friend in the NYPD, who suggested they organize a neighborhood gun buyback event, with those two firearms used to "prime the pump" for other guns in the community. The drug paraphernalia referred to two leftover syringes used to administer medication—for which he had documentation—to his recently deceased dog, according to the attorney.
As for the narcotics, Lopez insisted in several meetings with members of the Queens District Attorney's office that any drugs found in his home had to have been planted there. At one meeting, according to the suit, "he was told by an Assistant District Attorney never to bring it up again or he would jeopardize any possible positive resolution of his case."
The case eventually went to court, where Lopez was told "take it or leave it, you can choose the drugs or the guns," according to his attorney. He reluctantly pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor weapons possessions charge, and was fired from this job with the DoE and as a youth basketball coach.
After he made bail, but before he was fired from coaching, the Daily News reports that Desormeau showed up to taunt Lopez in front of parents and players, saying, "You won't be doing this much longer."
Attorneys for Desormeau and Neve could not be reached for comment.
Currently, the two detectives are on desk duty, according to police, pending criminal charges. A Queens District Attorney's Office did not respond to a question about whether the office will review past convictions that rely on Desormeau and Neve's police work.