Mario Gomez, a retired corrections officer, and Jose Quinoy, a cop, were once friendly neighbors.
But after a violent confrontation seven years ago and years of legal wrangling since, the sole thing they agree on now’s that they are glad to be moving on with their lives.
A federal jury has awarded $1.05 million to Gomez and his ex-wife, who accused Quinoy of roughing them up at Sleepy Hollow police station where Quinoy was a detective in 2008.
Gomez also will get an undisclosed amount in exemplary damages from Quinoy, who acquitted three years ago on federal criminal charges and now works as a Mount Vernon policeman.
“I went through complete hell for years and need it never had happened,” Gomez, 57, said Friday at his lawyer’s office. “We can close the book and advance with our lives and for that i will be able to always be grateful for the jury’s decision.”
The lawyer, Francis Young, and his co-counsel, Barry Strutt, said the exemplary damages meant the jury was sending a message to Quinoy and other cops that what he did was wrong and should not happen again. They said the couple vindicated, particularly Mario, who wasn’t called as a witness within the criminal case.
“Mario finally need to tell his story to a jury,” said Young. “Jurors believed him. They didn’t believe Quinoy’s testimony.”
But Quinoy disagreed, saying that the jury likely swayed by the present environment surrounding enforcement and therefore the televised images from Ferguson, Baltimore, et al. over the past year.
“They saw the (pictures of the) black eyes (Gomez had) and felt it had been excessive,” Quinoy, 42, said during a phone interview. “It didn’t end the way I’d hoped but you cannot get within the heads of jurors.”
The May 22, 2008, incident started when Quinoy called Gomez, who suspected the married detective was having a relationship with Gomez’ 22-year-old daughter. Quinoy wanted to deny that and claimed Gomez threatened to return to headquarters and beat him up. Gomez insisted that the detective taunted him that he didn’t have the courage to confront him about the matter face to face .
Once Gomez showed up, the confrontation grew violent. Both men claimed the opposite struck first. At one point Gomez punched Quinoy within the face, but he claimed that, once he was handcuffed, the detective threw him against a car and hit and kicked him within the head.
The couple were arrested but charges against them were eventually dismissed.
The original lawsuits by the Gomezes also named the village and other officers but those claims dismissed, leaving Quinoy because of the only defendant.
After a two week trial in U.S. District Court in White Plains, the jury last week cleared Quinoy of a false arrest claim but found him responsible for assault, battery and excessive force against Mario Gomez and awarded $600,000. Awilda Gomez was awarded $450,000 after the jury found Quinoy had assaulted her when she came to her husband’s defense.
The village’s insurance firm can pay the $1.05 million. instead of have the jury choose exemplary damages that Quinoy himself must pay — which could are as high as $2 million — the 2 sides reached a settlement, agreeing to an undisclosed amount from Quinoy which the defense wouldn’t appeal the decision .
Quinoy was indicted on charges that he violated Gomez’ civil rights and people of another man in an unrelated incident which he tampered with a witness, Officer Michael Hayes. Hayes had worked with an G-man , Catherine Pena, and secretly recorded fellow officers within the wake of the Gomez case.
Mario Gomez poses at bios attorney’s office. He and his ex-wife won a $1.05 million federal verdict against a detective who roughed them up in Sleepy Hollow seven years ago.
Before Quinoy’s criminal trial in 2010, it had been learned that Pena had destroyed evidence by erasing one among Hayes’ tapes, covering it up by altering transcripts of other recordings and lying about her actions.
She invoked her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when subpoenaed as a defense witness. The judge told the jury what she had done, which they might infer that what was on the erased tape would are favorable to Quinoy. The jury acquitted the detective on two charges and will not reach a verdict associated with the Gomez assault. Federal prosecutors opted to not retry Quinoy thereon charge.
Quinoy left Sleepy Hollow in 2011 and joined the Mount Vernon local department a month later. In January, he became the PBA president there.
“They know who I’m, what I do,” said of his current colleagues, adding that he’s glad to possess gotten an opportunity to maneuver on together with his career.
Quinoy features a pending $17 million federal lawsuit against Pena and therefore the federal .
He said he regrets making the call that night years ago.
“I did it as a prefer to the daughter … Mario was a person ,” Quinoy said Friday. “No good deed goes unpunished i assume .”
But Gomez and his lawyers contend there was a vindictive streak. Quinoy tried to forfeit the couple’s car later that night, Young said, and a glitch in how Gomez’ fingerprints were entered into the statewide system doomed him to a extended stay within the county jail than was necessary.
“It’s disturbing that he was accepted with open arms by Mount Vernon,” Young said.