Two former state troopers currently awaiting trial on charges they assaulted a man who they said inappropriately touched one of their girlfriends at a party are being sued for $1 million by the victim.
In the lawsuit, Felipe Figueroa-Garcia alleges that Xavier Cruz did nothing to stop his fellow trooper Rupert Laird from threatening to kill Garcia before beating him up in the basement of Cruz’s Wethersfield home.
The lawsuit also alleges that Cruz and Laird falsely imprisoned him and that Laird’s assault caused significant health issues including contusions to his thorax, his shoulders, arms and his legs. The suit filed by Andy Groher of RisCassi & Davis, which is seeking $1 million in damages, also asks a judge to attach Cruz’s Wethersfield home.
Cruz and Laird were arrested by Wethersfield police and charged with first-degree kidnapping, deprivation of rights by force or threat and second-degree assault following the incident that occurred on Feb. 18. Both men have pleaded not guilty and are due in court Nov. 13.
Attorney Aaron Romano, who represents Laird, said Thursday he was aware of the lawsuit and that he wasn’t surprised by it.
“This lawsuit reveals the plaintiff’s true motivation in this case and we are looking forward to an honest assessment of the facts in this case in court,” Romano said.
The state police fired both Cruz and Laird last month after an internal affairs investigation.
The incident that led to their arrest started with a group of people drinking at T's Cafe on Airport Road in Hartford, court records show. Figueroa-Garcia knew both Cruz and Laird and was invited back to a party at Cruz's house.
Figueroa-Garcia told police there were about seven people partying in the kitchen when he started flirting with a female and grabbed her buttocks, according to the arrest warrant.
Figueroa-Garcia left the party, but when he went home his girlfriend wouldn't let him in the apartment so he texted Cruz to ask if he could return to his house. He told police that as soon as he pulled into Cruz's driveway, Laird pulled in behind him in a Volvo and blocked him in.
As the two men walked into Cruz's home, the victim told police, Laird took a black handgun from his pants and pointed it at the victim's chest and said, "You know I can kill you, right?" Laird then said, according to the police report, "You know what, I'm not even going to do this because I am a cop, but I've got connections ... if I was going to kill you no one would find the body."
Laird then asked Cruz to get his police baton and a pair of black boots, the warrant states. Laird told the victim he was "going to pay" for touching the woman, with whom Laird had a close relationship, the warrant states.
The troopers took Figueroa-Garcia into the basement and told him to strip to his underwear, the warrant states, and Laird then head-butted him above the left eye, drawing blood. Laird ordered him to get on his knees and started kicking and punching him, at one point ordering Figueroa-Garcia to grab a pipe above him so that he couldn't use his arms to deflect the blows, the warrant states.
Cruz then called the woman and made Figueroa-Garcia apologize to her. Laird then asked her to pick a number between one and 10 and, when she said four, he told Cruz that's how many beatings the victim was going to get, according to the warrant.
Laird punched Figueroa-Garcia more than 20 times, kicked him more than 20 times and struck him with a police baton at least 15 times, according to the victim's statement in the arrest warrant.
Figueroa-Garcia said that Cruz didn't strike him, but also didn't stop Laird. At one point, the victim told police, he asked Cruz "to make him stop" and Cruz said no.
Once the beating was over, the warrant states, the troopers handed Figueroa-Garcia napkins and a bottle of carpet cleaner and told him to clean up the blood. Laird then told him to tell people that he fell while he was drunk and not to tell anyone what had happened, according to the warrant.