NYC nurse accused of assault exonerated by Ring camera

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NYPD officers refused to look at Ring camera surveillance footage that would have exonerated a nurse busted for domestic violence charges, according to a new federal lawsuit.

Tricia Lara says she’s the one who got arrested when her cousin forced her way into her Brooklyn apartment on June 30 — even though a camera set up in her living room showed her cousin was the aggressor.

The officers’ unwillingness to watch the video — despite a state law requiring cops to investigate who the “primary physical aggressor” in a domestic violence case is — put Lara through the criminal justice system ringer for six months, she said.

“They took my fingerprints, put me in a cell. I went downtown to book that night, and the next morning I saw the judge,” she said.

Ring video shows confrontation between Tricia Lara and her cousin at her Brooklyn apartment.

“I was attacked in my own home. It affected my job. I couldn’t get a job because they said I had a pending case against me,” said Lara, a registered nurse. “I used to be a school nurse, and the agency sent me an email saying I was arrested and I will be terminated if I don’t get it resolved. My whole career was on the line.”

Lara filed a lawsuit against the city and several NYPD officers, including the commanding officer of the 61st Precinct, in Brooklyn Federal Court Tuesday.

“We’ll review the case and respond in the litigation,” a spokesman for the city Law Department said.

The interaction that threw Lara’s life into turmoil lasted just a few seconds — the security video she set up in her Sheepshead Bay home shows her opening the front door to find her cousin standing on the other side, holding a brown paper bag.

Tricia Lara

The cousin is on her mother’s side of the family, and Lara says she wasn’t welcome in her home. Her arrival was a surprise, Lara said, since her mother, who lives with her, said a different relative was coming to visit.

“I don’t want you here,” Lara says on the video, but the cousin pushes her way through the threshold and hits Lara in the chest.

The cousin then starts shrieking after Lara apparently hits him in the face. “Call the police! Call the f—ing police!” the cousin yells to two women standing outside the apartment.

Lara went to the 61st Precinct to accuse her cousin of burglary and assault.

Ring video shows confrontation between Tricia Lara and her cousin at her Brooklyn apartment.

She says the cops there refused to take a complaint, and unknown to her, her cousin called 911 to accuse her of assault, with the two other women at the scene and Lara’s own mother backing up the “false tale.”

The cops who responded to their call, Police Officers Richard Powers and Robert Emmanuel, “disregarded the Ring surveillance camera with easily retrievable `exonerating’ video clearly visible on a nearby cabinet in the living room,” Lara’s lawsuit states. They also never reached out to Lara to get her side of the story, she said.

“That’s a big problem,” her lawyer, Eric Sanders said. “They [the NYPD officers] claim to have all this training, but yet they don’t follow it.”

On July 1, Lara returned to the precinct to file a report, but the officer she spoke to, Claudia Pinzon, treated her complaint as a harassment case, not a burglary case — in an attempt to keep the precinct’s major crime numbers down, the lawsuit alleges.

Ring video shows confrontation between Tricia Lara and her cousin at her Brooklyn apartment.
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That same day, the officers working on her cousin’s complaint filled out a form calling for Lara’s arrest, and when Lara returned to the precinct on July 4 to check on the status of her complaint, she was cuffed, she claims.

The officer who cuffed her, Yulia Braginsky, refused to look at the Ring camera footage on her phone, Lara says in her suit.

Lara, a native of Trinidad, said she believes the police didn’t take her complaint seriously because of her race, and that the officers might have investigated her side of the story if she was white.

Prosecutors finally reviewed the video, and on their third court appearance on Dec. 8, her case was dismissed, she said.

“It was a big relief, a big relief, because my career was on the line…. They tried to ruin me with her lies,” he said. “It was scary. I lost a lot of weight, I started to get dizzy for no reason. Dizziness out of nowhere, it’s really stressful.”

She added, “If I had no video, what would have happened?”

The NYPD declined to comment on the incident, citing the pending litigation. Nor would they say if any of the officers faced an internal investigation for their handling of the case or if Lara’s cousin would face criminal charges.

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