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New Brunswick police accused of excessive force in lawsuit

July 31, 2012 3:47:47 PM PDT
Lawyers for the injured 19-year-old say this shooting is just one more example of New Brunswick police using excessive force and violating civil rights. Police say the video doesn't tell the whole story.

In surveillance video released by attorneys representing Victor Rodriguez, you see the 19 year old carrying a starter pistol and racing past an unmarked police cruiser.

The officer in the driver's seat opens fire, hitting Rodriguez in the legs. Soon after, another officer shoots Rodriguez in the back. His attorneys say that's the shot that paralyzed him.

They say you can see it happen when Rodriguez legs reflexively go up in the air.

"He sits here today in a wheel chair. He's a paraplegic. He's got two bullets lodged in his back, which the doctors are not able to remove," attorney Joseph Ginarte said.

Rodriguez, 19, listened to his lawyers talk about his case during a press conference, but they wouldn't let him speak to the media. They've filed a federal complaint against New Brunswick Police and the officers involved, among others.

"There needs to be a message sent out to New Brunswick and its law enforcement officers that what happened to Victor and what happened to those before him in the New Brunswick community, cannot continue to occur," attorney Alan Zegas said.

The shooting happened January 31st. Lawyers say Rodriguez was approached by a group of gang members outside a restaurant. They say Rodriguez then pulled out a starter pistol with blanks, fired two shots in the air to scare them away and started running with the gun when he was shot by cops.

That's not how New Brunswick police argue it happened. They say "Initial information obtained from witnesses suggests Mr. Rodriguez fired that pistol in the direction of police and city residents."

Lawyers for Rodriguez say their client had the pistol, which looked like a 9mm because he was using it as a prop in music videos. They're asking the department of justice to investigate and they're also seeking undisclosed damaged for their client.

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