Woman awarded $431,000 for Occupy Wall Street police actions

NEW YORK (AP) – A Manhattan woman was awarded more than $400,000 Friday by a federal jury after she charged New York City and police for saying she suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was knocked to the ground by a police sergeant. was thrown while serving as a medic to protesters at Occupy Wall Street events in 2012.

Mary Tardif, 33, won the $431,250 prize nearly a decade after she sued in 2013. She had claimed unspecified damages for injuries she sustained as a doctor for protesters at multiple rallies organized by the grassroots movement that started in Manhattan, spread worldwide, and was known for its chorus, “We are the 99 percent.”

In an interview, Tardif called the verdict “very fair”.

“I feel like I’ve seen real justice for the first time,” said Tardif, who works at Broadway Advocacy Coalition, where she interprets sign language for Broadway shows and serves as a counselor for the disabled.

Tardif, who has had epilepsy since she was 19, said she considered the verdict, which found that “battery” had been used, but no seizure, a victory for those “occupiers who never saw this day or never had their day in court.” have had .”

“It feels like a victory for all of us. I wish I could share it with them. There were so many of them,” she said, speaking of others injured in rallies as she celebrated at a restaurant near the courthouse with her service dog, Daisy, a black Labrador Retriever who was with Tardif during the trial but hidden from jurors.

Nick Paolucci, a spokesperson for the New York City legal department, said the city was “disappointed with this outcome” and was reviewing options.

He noted that in 2018 a jury dismissed the claims before the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reinstated the case, citing flaws in the first lawsuit.

Paolucci said Tardif was “never thrown to the ground, as she claimed. In addition, and unfortunately, the jury was not aware that the plaintiff had introduced new injuries during this second trial that were never alleged in the first case.

During opening statements, city attorney Michael Viviano said that on March 21, 2012, a police sergeant who has since been promoted to lieutenant grabbed Tardif’s arms and took her away as police cleared a park in Union Square because she got her hands on a police officer back.

“Then the prosecutor falls to the ground. The prosecution has not been thrown out,” he said.

Reza Rezvani, a lawyer arguing on behalf of Tardif, told jurors in an opening statement that the sergeant grabbed her with both hands.

“He throws her to the ground. Her head hits the sidewalk,’ he said.

Tardif claimed in her 2013 lawsuit that her epileptic condition was often ignored after she was the victim of violent beatings by police officers who arrested her at several protests while she served as a medic. The lawsuit said they kicked her, walked on her limbs and threw her to the ground.

According to the trial evidence and Tardif’s statements, the violent encounter in Union Square caused her head to hit the ground with such force that she suffered a permanent brain injury that left her unable to work except for a job where she was. flexible hours and can sometimes call in sick if she is completely immobile.

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