Two NYPD detectives have been arrested and charged with assault in connection with the 2015 beating of a postal worker in Queens who says he's been targeted by the NYPD since he unwittingly gave directions to a cop killer.
Karim Baker, then 26, was sitting in his parked car in Corona last October 21st around 7:30 p.m. when he was approached by two plainclothes detectives who allegedly punched and kicked him and dragged him out of his car onto the pavement, according to a criminal complaint [PDF] filed today in Queens County court.
Attorney Eric Subin said in a statement that the plainclothes detectives approached his client in an unmarked vehicle, shined a flashlight in his face, and demanded identification. Baker asked why ID was necessary, and was told that he had parked too close to a fire hydrant. The beating that followed left him with a split lip and bruises and scrapes on his face. Baker was ultimately charged with resisting arrest, parking near a hydrant, possessing drugs, disorderly conduct, and obstructing police work.
Baker has since argued that the incident was part of an ongoing harassment campaign that picked up in December 2014, after he unwittingly gave directions to Ismaayil Brinsley—the gunman who murdered two NYPD officers in Bed-Stuy.
Subin says his client was working a shift for FedEx in Clinton Hill on December 20, 2014, when Brinsley approached and asked for directions to the Marcy Houses. Soon after the two parted ways, Brinsley murdered Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu as they sat in their patrol car, and subsequently shot himself. Baker later testified to detectives that he didn't know Brinsley, and noticed "nothing at all" strange about his manner that day. Since then, Baker says that cops have pulled him over about 20 times.
"Mr. Baker believes that the [incidents] are connected due to the random nature and otherwise unjustifiable violence perpetrated against him," said Stubin in a statement soon after the beating, adding that their client was "very visibly and badly injured."
Detective Angelo Pampena, 31, filed a sworn criminal court complaint after the Queens beating alleging that Baker had been parked directly in front of a fire hydrant, prompting the police stop. Video evidence later revealed that Baker was parked more than fifteen feet from the hydrant. Pampena has been charged with assault in the second and third degree, perjury, and official misconduct. His partner, 31-year-old Detective Robert Carbone, has been charged with second and third-degree assault. Both detectives, formerly of the Queens North Gang Unit, face up to seven years in prison. (They have been suspended pending the outcome of the case.)
The Queens DA's office requested $10,000 bail, but both detectives were released without bail earlier today, according to the Daily News. Their next court appearance is scheduled for June.