The NYPD cops under investigation for allegedly beating a surrendering suspect were rookies with two days remaining in their probationary period at the time of the incident, the Daily News has learned.
Officers Pearce Martinez and Lenny Lutchman remained on full duty status Wednesday, but if Brooklyn prosecutors or Internal Affairs Bureau investigators determine the cops used excessive force against Thomas Jennings, they could be fired.
Martinez and Lutchman were both hired on July 9, 2013 and the violent confrontation occurred on July 7, 2015.
There is a two-year probationary period for all NYPD cops. During that time rookies have less job protection and can be fired for virtually any misconduct.
A spokesman for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association declined comment.
Jennings, 24, an aspiring hip hop artist was suspected of stealing two slices of pizza from New York Fried Chicken on Saratoga Ave., along with an unidentified man who was wielding a switchblade knife, according to court papers.
The cops tracked Jennings to a grocery store nearby where Lutchman gets to him first, the video shows. While Lutchman is brandishing his baton, Jennings puts his hands up in a gesture of surrender. He does not appear to be flailing his arms and resisting arrest as the criminal complaint alleges.
Then Martinez rushes in and immediately begins punching Jennings in the head. With the suspect bent over the counter, Lutchman strikes him repeatedly with his baton and elbow.
Investigators from IAB interviewed Jennings in his lawyer’s office Wednesday. A prosecutor from the Brooklyn D.A.’s office was also present for the interview.
“I hope IAB is taking this seriously and I certainly hope the D.A. prosecutes these cops for what they did,” lawyer Amy Rameau told the Daily News.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Wednesday that he planned to watch the video later.
“I look at all the videos when we have videos for initial review along with Internal Affairs,” Bratton said
ennings has a pending lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court against cops for allegedly breaking his eye socket after they answered a call from his estranged girlfriend that he was violating an order of protection.
Lutchman was sued in federal court for allegedly using excessive force against plaintiff Keith Brown on April 22, 2014 in response to Brown’s 911 call that his girlfriend was being assaulted by her brothers. Another cop and a sergeant were also defendants’s in the suit.
Brown, 28, claimed he was kicked, punched and pepper sprayed by the cops.
The city paid Brown a $12,500 settlement last January, according to court records.
With Caitlin Nolan