Two males who have been severely injured in a deadly capturing at a Queens lodge have filed swimsuit in opposition to the town for failing to shutter the problem-plagued boarding home after months of pleas and warnings from locals that somebody may get killed there, The Publish has realized.
Shamel Bennett and Rukeem Cummings — who attended a 2021 New Year’s bash at the notorious Umbrella Hotel — are in search of $5 million in damages in their Queens Supreme Court docket lawsuit accusing the town of negligence.
The swimsuit, which additionally names “The Office of Former Mayor Bill de Blasio” and lodge operators as defendants, notes that it was solely after the triple capturing that the then-mayor finally ordered city agencies to close the hotel.
“Due to their inexcusable lack of urgency, they put this community and specifically my clients in danger,” mentioned the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ellie Silverman, calling the town’s response “too little and too late” in the submitting.
The Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens had been the subject of complaints from neighboring residents, the local people board and elected officers months previous to the capturing, together with over allegations that it was a hotbed for drug dealing, intercourse trafficking and violence.
Bennett and Cummings survived the capturing with critical accidents whereas one other man, 20-year-old Robert Williams, was killed in what marked the primary murder reported in 2021. Richard Swygert, of the Bronx, faces murder and attempted murder charges in the case.
Cummings, then 20, was shot in the appropriate leg and shattered glass entered his eye whereas he was ready in a automobile exterior the lodge.
“Fifteen percent glass is still in my eye,” he mentioned in a sworn interview, obtained by The Publish, after submitting the discover of declare in opposition to the town. “They had to do surgery and take the glass out.”
Bennett, then 40, was shot in his left shoulder and required surgical procedure. He mentioned in testimony that “The bullet is still there.”
“I couldn’t do the MRI because the steel was still in my arm,” he mentioned.
Each complained a few delayed response earlier than they transported to Bellevue Hospital, claiming authorities have been extra involved with grilling them in regards to the crime than getting them medical consideration for his or her accidents.
“For months and months, the City of New York failed this Kew Gardens community,” mentioned Silverman. “The City of New York exhibited a wanton and flagrant disregard for the safety and well-being of this community by ignoring their pleas for the City to shut down the hotel and by refusing to convene a multi-agency response or at the very least, accept their invitations to attend Town Hall meetings.”
The Huge Apple “had the duty to take immediate steps to shut down the hotel long before this incident,” the lawyer added.
“By failing to take the appropriate security measures to protect against foreseeable acts of violence, their egregious delays led to this insurmountable tragedy on New Year’s Eve.”
State Assemblyman Dan Rosenthal, who represents the Kew Gardens group, mentioned he wasn’t stunned by the lawsuit.
“For months, we reached out to City Hall to act on the Umbrella hotel. It fell on deaf fears,” Rosenthal mentioned Sunday.
“We knew there was growing violence at the site and we knew inevitably what would happen.”
The group grew to become alarmed when the lodge’s revolving door home windows have been shattered in a drive-by capturing in the summer season of 2020.
Rosenthal co-signed a letter that Queens elected officers despatched to de Blasio on August 14, 2020 — 4 months earlier than the New 12 months’s capturing — warning about violence and lawbreaking in and across the lodge and urging a coordinated metropolis response.
The letter, despatched by Rep. Grace Meng, state Sen. Leroy Comrie, then-Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz and Meeting members Rosenthal and Dan Hevesi, is talked about as proof in the lawsuit.
“How many pleas, petitions, calls, emails, letters, NY representatives, Town Hall meeting invitations, requests and prayers for a response does the City of New York need from a community before taking necessary and immediate action to avoid a foreseeable and preventable tragedy?” mentioned Silverman.
The NYPD’s 102nd Precinct had stationed a patrol exterior the lodge in response to the complaints — however sources mentioned police weren’t there when the capturing occurred on New 12 months’s.
The entrance of the constructing at 124-18 Queens Boulevard — which additionally embrace flooring with residences — is now boarded up.
The swimsuit additionally names the Umbrella Hotel and Forge Realty, which owned and operated the premises, as defendants. Forge Realty not too long ago filed for chapter safety in US Japanese District Court docket, data present.
Town legislation division and Forge Realty, by its chapter lawyer, didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.