Long Beach settles police ‘attack’ suit with $65K payment


The City Council Tuesday night agreed to pay a Long Beach woman $65,000 to settle a civil suit in which she claimed she was “attacked” by a police officer who slammed her to the sidewalk, and that her constitutional rights were later violated.

The council agreed to pay Julia Lopez Motherway, who filed suit against the city in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, over an incident on July 14, 2018. Motherway had initially sued for $1 million.

In March 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan ruled that Motherway could pursue her claims of excessive force, false arrest, malicious prosecution and unreasonable search and seizure.

Motherway alleged that on July 14, 2018, she went to the Nassau County medical examiner’s office to identity her mother’s body, and then received notification of a break-in at her late mother’s home in Long Beach. She called 911 and drove to the house, where, she said, the front door had been removed and the house had been ransacked. She said she saw her estranged sister and one of her sister’s friends rummaging through her mother’s belongings.

When police arrived, Motherway said, she told them she was the homeowner’s daughter.  She said she the heard a commotion and screaming, and saw a Long Beach police officer, Lucas Dikranis, leading her sister out of the house in handcuffs.

On the sidewalk, Motherway said, she began recording on her phone. She said that another officer, Mark Stark, asked her why she was there, and shined a flashlight in her face. He asked Motherway to leave, she said, and she walked backward, still recording on her phone.

Suddenly, she said, an officer — whom she did not identify in her suit — twisted her left arm around her back, and then “attacked” her from behind and “slammed” her to the sidewalk. She said she screamed for help, but was told to shut up, or the unidentified officer would “break her shoulder.”

In her suit, Motherway said she did not know the identity of the officer, but it was either Stark, Joseph Wiemann or one of two other officers who were identified only as John Doe and Jane Doe.

She said she was taken to Long Beach police headquarters and handcuffed to a bench in a cell, bleeding from her face, left arm, knees, legs and toes. She said her request for medical attention was ignored, but that, after about two hours, paramedics arrived and treated her.

Motherway said she asked another officer, whom she identified as Brian Wells, for her cellphone. When it was given back to her later, she said, the video of her encounter with police had been deleted.

Motherway was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but the Nassau County District Attorney’s office dismissed the charges, and she said she filed her civil suit in November 2020.

In his ruling, Cogan noted that Long Beach police “do not contest whether plaintiff adequately alleged that a police officer used excessive force. Instead, they take issue with plaintiff’s failure to specify which officer did so.” As such, Cogan said, the officers asked that the excessive force complaint be dismissed.

But, Cogan said, “A plaintiff need only allege that the defendants were present on the night in question and participated in the plaintiff’s arrest. For officers Stark and Wiemann, plaintiff has done just that.”

Motherway could not be reached for comment. Long Beach officials declined to comment, and a spokesman for the Long Beach Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association could not be reached.