Ithaca College Student Sues Police Officers for 'Senselessly' Being Pepper Sprayed in His Own Home

In a lawsuit filed on April 3, an Ithaca College student claimed a police officer used excessive force when by "senselessly" pepper spraying him while he was being arrested in his own home.

The criminal complaint centers on the night of November 17, 2016, when plaintiff Kyle Goldstein was a 21-year-old student at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Ithaca Police Department Officers Jacob V. Allard and Daniel A. Bechtold, both defendants in the suit, responded to the home Goldstein rented to investigate a noise complaint relating to a house party. Newsweek reached out to the Ithaca Police Department but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Body camera footage showed the officers informing students the party was over and telling them to leave, according to the complaint. Bechtold allegedly grabbed Goldstein's right arm and while the 21-year-old raised his arm at one point, the complaint argued he never attempted to flee.

"Allard moves toward Goldstein, grabs Goldstein's left arm, twisting it around behind him, and tells Goldstein to 'put your hands behind your back,' and Goldstein is handcuffed and pushed face first against the wall," the complaint said.

During the confrontation, Bechtold brandished his taser and warned people who were still in the house to stay back and leave. Allard allegedly pushed Goldstein to the ground so he was lying flat on his stomach, but he later either rolled himself over or was rolled onto his back. At that point, Allard allegedly pepper sprayed him in the face. After being pepper sprayed, the lawsuit claimed Goldstein made at least nine requests for officers to wipe the pepper spray off his face:

  • "Goldstein is heard yelling 'Wipe it out of my eyes,' or words to that effect."
  • "Goldstein is heard yelling again 'Wipe it off, please.'"
  • "As Goldstein is led down the hallway, it appears his eyes are still closed, and he says 'I can't see.'"
  • "Goldstein is heard, 'Officer, I'm begging you, please wipe this out of my eyes.'"
  • "Goldstein says again, 'Please, I'm begging you. Please wipe it off of my face. Please. Officer, please. Just wipe it off of my face. Please. It keeps seeping into my eyes.'"
  • "Goldstein says, 'Please wipe it off my eyes.'"
  • "Goldstein continues, 'Officers, please just wipe this off of my eyes. Please. Anything. Just wipe it off my eyes.'"
  • "Goldstein asks 'Can I please beg one of you to wash some of this out of my eyes?'"
  • "Goldstein asks again, 'Can I get something to wipe my face off?'"

Goldstein was placed in a police officer's car and taken to the station, where he was charged with obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. However, it was later amended to just resisting arrest, which was dismissed by a prosecutor.

ithaca college police officer arrest lawsuit pepper spray
An Ithaca College student filed a lawsuit on April 3 alleging that Ithaca Police Department officers used excessive force when they pepper sprayed him. Google Maps

"Most importantly, Goldstein was never told he was being arrested, he complied with every command that either officer made, and he posed no threat to the arresting officers," the complaint said. "Goldstein was handcuffed and prostrate when he was pepper sprayed. There is no justification for the unreasonable and gratuitous use of pepper spray against Goldstein."

Two days after the incident, the criminal complaint said Goldstein was diagnosed with chemical conjunctivitis in both eyes and a scleral abrasion in the left eye. The damage from the pepper spray, the complaint alleged, was lasting.

"Goldstein is a student at Ithaca College and this injury occurred during his final exam period, which adversely affected his academic performance because he was unable to see well," it said. "This violation of his civil rights has left him with permanent damage to his vision, and pain and suffering."

Along with the claim of police brutality, the lawsuit charged that Allard's statement report contradicted the video evidence captured on his body camera. It also alleged that the officers entered the premise illegally and that the 21-year-old was illegally arrested. Bechtold, the lawsuit argued, failed to intervene when excessive force was being used on Goldstein.

Ithaca College Student Sues Police Officers for 'Senselessly' Being Pepper Sprayed in His Own Home | U.S.