The Suffolk County Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverside in April 2017. File photo: Denise Civiletti

A former inmate at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverside is suing the county after he was brutally beaten by correction officers last year, causing severe physical injuries that damaged his organs and required him to receive emergency surgery, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed last week.

Wilson Canterero Lopez, a 39-year-old Honduras native living in Suffolk County, was physically attacked for no reason, causing him “severe and permanent physical, mental and emotional impairments,” according to the complaint filed last Wednesday by the plaintiff’s attorney, Frederick Brewington. The lawsuit says the attack is one incident in a pattern of mistreatment of members of the minority Latino community and other people of color in Suffolk County by law enforcement.

The federal lawsuit, filed against Suffolk County, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and 15 corrections who are unnamed in the filing, seeks a total of $69 million — $49 million for seven causes of action and $20 million in punitive damages. The suit was first reported by Newsday March 24.

“Defendants violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights and left him with scars, permanent physical and emotional injury, some of which can never be fully repaired or healed,” the complaint states.

Canterero Lopez, who was serving three months of jail time after pleading guilty to violating an order of protection, was in a dispute with another inmate in the cell next to his, when the correction officers came to transfer him to a new cell on the afternoon of March 24, 2022, according to the lawsuit. 

Six of the officers, dressed in helmets with face shields and black clothing, and handheld shields and batons, entered his cell.Canterero Lopez followed directions and complied the corrections officers’ commands, but was violently assaulted from behind by the officers while facing the wall, according to the lawsuit. Canterero Lopez was forced off his feet by one officer, causing him to hit his head on the side of his bed and on the floor of his cell, the complaint states. While on the ground, the correction officers “viciously beat” Canterero Lopez and ignored his pleas for them to stop, even as Canterero Lopez bled from his forehead. 

“This beating was merciless and continued for what seemed like an eternity to [the] Plaintiff,” the lawsuit states.

Canterero Lopez was then restrained in a restraint chair-hand truck that caused “extreme pain and unreasonable suffering” for “no good faith or allowable reason,” according to the lawsuit. He was not monitored by a medical staff member as the correction officers transported him, even though he was bleeding from both his forehead and mouth profusely and was struggling to breathe, the lawsuit states.  

The correction officers transported Canterero Lopez to the jail’s infirmary, but the facility failed to provide him with medical treatment, the lawsuit alleges. After about an hour or an hour-and-a-half, it was determined that Canterero Lopez needed to be treated at a medical facility outside the jail, but jail staff did not call an ambulance and he was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in a Sheriff’s car “with no effort being made to address his medical condition, pain, and obvious distress,” the lawsuit claims.

Hospital personnel determined Canterero Lopez needed six stitches on his forehead and suffered from internal bleeding under his ribs and organ damage from the beating, according to the lawsuit. Canterero Lopez had to undergo emergency the next day surgery to save his life, the lawsuit says. 

After being discharged from the hospital on April 3, 2022, Canterero Lopez was jailed at the Yaphank correctional facility, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit says that Canterero Lopez was not provided any pain medication for his injuries and the surgery while at the Yaphank jail. 

He was eventually transferred back to Riverhead and was discharged on May 4, but continued to suffer from his injuries from the incident. He returned to Peconic Bay Medical Center at the end of May 2022 because he was experiencing serious stomach pains. Canterero Lopez continues to have “constant stomach discomfort and left eye problems” and remains in need of treatment due to lack of health insurance coverage. He also can no longer work at his former job due to his injuries.

The plaintiff is demanding a jury trial for the lawsuit. 

A spokesperson for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment, saying the office could not comment on pending litigation.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.

Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: