That’s some chutzpah.
A man once described as among the most violent gang members in Brooklyn and who was busted in a smash-and-grab robbery in Soho this month says that he’s a victim — claiming in legal papers that cops were too rough on him during two previous arrests.
Ricardo Forde, 25, of Brooklyn says in a 2021 federal lawsuit that it was the NYPD that has left him injured, “deprived of his liberty” and unable to enjoy his life, court papers say.
“Criminals feel they’re always in the right now. They’re being persecuted by the police,” said Joseph Giacalone, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor and a former NYPD sergeant. “Right now they view the criminal justice system as weak and they’re going to take advantage of every avenue given to them.”
Forde, 25, was allegedly among five men who targeted the Rebag boutique at 390 West Broadway on May 5 and shattered display cases with hammers to remove eight handbags worth $24,700. Terrified employees and shoppers at the high-end designer resale shop ran to the back of the store, according to criminal complaints.
Forde is accused of fleeing in a Jeep and then hitting a police car before jumping out and bolting. Police caught him and he was charged with robbery among other accounts.
“Well, that doesn’t help his case, for sure,” said Craig Phemister, Forde’s former lawyer in his 2021 federal suit against the city.
The suit came after Forde’s September 2018 arrest in Crown Heights, when he was accused of running from police while taking a loaded .380 caliber Cobra Enterprises pistol from his waist and tossing it aside, according to an NYPD detective’s affidavit.
The affidavit notes that police “struggled” to arrest Forde, who was then on supervised release from an earlier conviction.
The 25-year-old belongs to Brooklyn’s Gates Fam gang, according to law enforcement sources. He was charged with attempted murder in the 2015 shooting of a 17-year-old in Brooklyn. He pleaded guilty to a weapons possession charge and served 17 months in state prison, records show.
Forde alleges he was beaten by officers who handcuffed him too tightly during the 2018 arrest and then delayed getting him medical treatment, legal papers say.
The city’s gun case was dismissed, but he was then charged with a federal count of gun possession as a convicted felon He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Forde was arrested again in April 2020 and, in another lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court, claims officers abused him and sexually assaulted him. They placed him in a “dirty, infested and overcrowded holding cell” and also refused to give him a mask to protect him from COVID-19, according to the suit filed in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn in 2021.
Both that lawsuit and the federal one are ongoing and seek unspecified damages.
Forde got another six-month sentence in 2021 for violating the terms of his probation including by allegedly hanging out with gang members. He was released under supervision on Dec. 7, 2021, five months before his most recent arrest of him.
Ellie Silverman, the lawyer currently representing him in his suits against the city, said an “arrest doesn’t make somebody guilty.”
“I will say there is a pattern of harassment that has happened in Mr. Forde’s life from particular officers from particular precincts in New York City,” Silverman said. “I don’t have enough information to determine whether or not I think this particular arrest is warranted or not.”
Silverman said she had no information on Forde’s alleged gang affiliation.
“Very often people are wrongfully identified as gang members,” she claimed.
Forde is now back in federal custody being held without bail in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn after being charged with committing a Hobbs Act robbery for the Soho heist. A complaint alleges the store’s designer goods are sometimes sold to out-of-state buyers online or to tourists.
The NYPD declined to comment on Forde’s suits.
The city Law Department said it was fighting both of them.
“He’s in possession of a gun, a lethal threat. We’re defending these officers,” spokesman Nicholas Paolucci said of the federal suit.