BALDWIN, Long Island (WABC) -- A Black man on Long Island who was Tased by police while trying to help a fellow motorist is speaking out and seeking damages.
Attorneys for Marc Merritt have filed a notice of claim against the Nassau County Police Department over the April 22 incident.
Merritt filed a lawsuit against the police department and at least eight officers for allegedly violating his civil rights.
Body camera video shows the confrontation between officers and Merritt on Grand Avenue in Baldwin.
Merritt says he was harassed by the group of white officers before they Tased him for jaywalking.
He said police asked for his ID, but he refused because he believed he was doing nothing wrong -- he had been helping a motorcyclist start his bike.
"I'm not a human, I feel like an animal, Tased for no reason," Merritt said. "I think if I had been a female or a white male trying to help someone it wouldn't have happened, I definitely know that wouldn't have happened."
In the police video, Merritt says when he reached into his pocket to get his ID, he was Tased twice and handcuffed on the ground.
"It's hard to put into words to watch your son be Tased because he's Black," his mother Denise Merritt said.
People who live nearby said there is another side to the story that the body camera video does not show.
One woman said she and several neighbors called police that night because of loud noises from a motorcycle group outside a restaurant lounge.
"The cops come, the crowds are big rowdy and drunk--what I saw with my own eyes was cops had to call for backup because they were in danger," the neighbor said. "The cops did say 'stand back, stand back' I heard it clearly. Then I heard 'don't put your hands on me, don't put your hands on me.'"
However Merritt's lawsuit claims the officers were negligent and abusive, leaving him with bruises and trauma. Merritt is asking for $1 million in damages.
"A lot of people are asking why didn't he just give his ID, it's because he felt he did nothing wrong and he felt he was being accused, or being harassed merely because he was a Black man in the street, trying to help someone," said attorney Ken Mollins.
Eyewitness News reached out to the police department for a statement but has not heard back. Typically they do not comment on pending litigation.
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