Lawsuit Charges NYC Cops With Stomping a Parakeet (and Beating Humans) During a Warrantless Raid


Stories about cops gratuitously killing dogs are sadly common, but this is the first parakeet stomping I can recall. According to a federal lawsuit, it all started during a 2012 Labor Day weekend barbecue at the Staten Island home of Evelyn Lugo, a 57-year-old mother of 10. Police officers stopped Lugo's son Edwin Avellanet as he was taking out some trash and asked him about an orange cone that someone had used to save a parking space in front of the house. The cops demanded identification, and Avellanet replied that he did not have to provide any, since he had done nothing wrong. One of the officers grabbed Avellanet's arm, but he broke free and ran back into his mother's house. The suit says police then forcibly entered the house without a warrant, breaking windows and at least one door in the process.

During the raid, the cage containing Lugo's cherished blue and green parakeet, Tito, was knocked onto the floor, and the bird escaped. Lugo's daughter Anna Febles told the New York Daily News that she then exclaimed, "The bird!" She said one of the officers replied, "Fuck the bird!" and deliberately crushed it beneath his foot.

According to the lawsuit, the cops also attacked several humans, repeatedly walloping Lugo's son George and a family friend, Luis Ortega, on the head with batons. The justification? The NYPD isn't talking, but I'm going to guess something like "resisting arrest." Arrest for what is not clear. Criminal charges against Ortega, George Lugo, and his sister Alba Cuevas were dismissed, and no charges were ever filed against Avellanet, whose insistence on his civil liberties apparently provoked the home invasion.

There is also no word on exactly what the parakeet did to deserve his fate, but presumably the officer who killed it felt threatened. "Ever since then I have been sick and depressed," Evelyn Lugo told the Daily News. "I was hurt on the inside, in my heart."

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]