Anthony Baez was a 29-year-old resident of the Bronx whose death during a 1994 arrest by the New York Police Department led to two trials and controversy over police brutality. The incident in question took place on December 22, 1994, when Anthony Baez was playing catch with his two brothers in the early hours of the morning. When their football accidentally hit two separate police cars, they were ordered to go home. Anthony Baez refused, saying that as a professional security guard he was aware that his rights were being violated. He then leaned against a police car.
The police officers on the scene disputed the brothers' statement of what occurred next. The other witnesses said that officer Francis X. Livoti used a chokehold on Anthony Baez to pull him off the car. Anthony Baez, who was asthmatic, fell down and died. A coroner's report concluded that his death was the result of asphyxiation. Officer Livoti maintained that the death of Anthony Baez was the result of an asthma attack and that he had not used a choke hold.
Officer Livoti was initially charged with homicide, a mistake that was blamed on clerical error and thrown out. This led to demonstrations about police brutality and complaints from the family of Anthony Baez. Livoti was subsequently indicted in December 1995 by a grand jury of criminally negligent homicide. However, in the subsequent 1996 trial conducted by prosecutors for New York state he was acquitted of the charges, leading to more demonstrations in the Bronx.
The case of officer Livoti was then taken up by federal authorities, who charged him with a civil rights violation. Specifically, federal prosecutors charged that officer Livoti had intentionally hurt Anthony Baez. As part of their case, federal prosecutors were allowed to introduce testimony about a previous incident in which Livoti was accused of choking another person on the scene of a crime. This evidence was not permitted to be presented in the state trial. Jurors found officer Livoti of the charges against him, citing not just the evidence of a pattern of police brutality evident in his conduct but noting that the witness testimony of his fellow officers was too inconsistent to be taken as credible.
In 1998, the lawsuit filed by the surviving family of Anthony Baez against both officer Livoti and the city of New York was settled for $3 million. The family initially sought $48 million, but agreed to drop their lawsuit against Livoti if the officer agreed to drop a libel lawsuit which he had filed against the Baez family lawyer.
In addition to the controversy surrounding Livoti, his fellow police officers were accused of perjury because of the inconsistency of their statements by the judge in charge of hearing the state case. Following the trials, officer Mario Erotokritou was not charged in federal or state court with perjury. However, an internal police investigation led to his dismissal from the police in 2003.