Opening statements delivered in lawsuit against Suffolk County, 5 police officers

The lawsuit is over a police custody death that happened in 2008.

News 12 Staff

and Thema Ponton

Jul 26, 2023, 12:27 AM

Updated 263 days ago

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Opening statements were delivered Tuesday in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Suffolk County and five police officers.
The lawsuit is over a police custody death that happened in 2008.
Suffolk County police have claimed that Kenny Lazo, a suspected drug dealer, tried to reach for an officer's gun.
They have said there was a violent struggle before he was subdued. Lazo died after being found in a jail cell while still in handcuffs.
The cause of death was ruled cardiac arrest.
The family is suing for millions of dollars, claiming that Suffolk County and the five officers beat Lazo and tried to cover it up.
One officer admitted on the stand Tuesday to striking Lazo with a flashlight and that his gun was in no danger of being taken.
Fred Brewington, the attorney representing Lazo's family, laid face down on the courtroom floor. He had one of the five officers named in the lawsuit kneel on his back to demonstrate what police say happened over 15 years ago.
"I think that that demonstration was necessary to deal with the absurdity of what they claim happened with regard to Kenny Lazo," Brewington says. "That no gun was reached for and that the officer who decided that he was going to change the scenario as we laid on the floor showed the jury that there was a real concern about the story that he told."
Kenny Lazo Jr. was 5 years old when his father died in police custody. He is now a senior in college.
"Feels like a long time overdue," Lazo Jr. says.
Lazo Jr.’s mother, Jennifer Gonzalez, says the defense is going to try to portray Lazo as a monster.
"He was never close to being a monster," Gonzalez says. "He was a great father, a spouse, you know, a great son and he was just loving."
A grand jury already declined to charge the five officers involved. Federal investigators also looked into the case, but decided not to bring charges.
The trial resumes Wednesday at federal court in Central Islip.
Suffolk County declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.


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