Kelley | Uustal attorneys Fan Li and Sean Parys have filed two separate lawsuits on behalf of a handcuffed man severely beaten by a West Palm Beach police officer in 2019. Surveillance video shows the officer punching the man repeatedly in the face and jamming his knee into the victim’s head.
One of the suits is a federal action claiming Officer Nicholas Lordi used excessive force on John Monroque, then a 63-year-old retired public works employee, in a West Palm Beach grocery store parking lot in November 2019. The other is a state suit filed against the president of the West Palm Beach Police Department’s union, claiming he defamed Monroque in an official statement to the press.
The excessive force suit also charges Lordi’s fellow officer, Jamesloo Charles, with failing to intervene on Monroque’s behalf during the beating.
“The officer who brutally punched John Monroque unconscious has yet to be held accountable for his actions,” Parys said. “The lawsuit is intended to hold the officer and the West Palm Beach Police Department that enabled his excessive use of force, responsible for his actions that night.”
According to the suit, Lordi and Charles responded to the Food Plus grocery store for a report of trespassing, and confronted Monroque in the parking lot. After a brief conversation, Monroque turned and walked away from the officers.
Lordi, then an officer who had been the subject of 40 internal affairs investigations in his four years with the force, grabbed Monroque from behind and slammed his head into the parked police car, the suit said and the video shows. He then placed Monroque in a headlock and threw him to the ground, punching him 11 times before a bystander intervened, according to the suit.
With a handcuffed Monroque lying unconscious and bleeding on the pavement, Lordi placed his knee and body weight on Monroque’s head and neck, in violation of police procedure, the suit said. Charles, the other officer, made no attempt to stop the beating or the knee hold, also in violation of police procedure, the suit said.
Monroque sustained injuries to his head and brain in the beating, as well as a broken nose and facial contusions, the suit said. Charges against him were dismissed after a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation.
Although the FDLE arrested Lordi and charged him with aggravated battery in 2022 in the incident, he remains on the force. Further, a press release defending Lordi issued by Adam Myers, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 2, claimed that Monroque was a felon, that the surveillance video showing the arrest was doctored, and that Monroque was a violent person, the suit said.
None of those claims is true, Li and Parys said.
In the excessive force suit, Li and Parys are seeking damages against Lordi and Charles, as well as the city of West Palm Beach and its police department. In the defamation suit, they are asking for a retraction and apology for the false statements Myers and the FOP made against Monroque.
“A police officer who threatens our community’s safety should not be tolerated, even by other officers. The charges against Mr. Monroque were dismissed, but this is hardly a just result,” Li said. “The officer remained on duty and the victim was left uncompensated. Civil rights suits seem to be the only way to deter police abuse and see that someone answers for it.”