YouTuber files tort claim against Union City over ‘assault,’ signaling lawsuit coming

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A YouTuber that has frequented Union City for the past couple months has filed a tort claim against the City of Union City over an “assault” that he says caused embarrassment, fear, and anxiety.

Screenshot via YouTube.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“We represent Leonard Filipowski, a public activist and auditor, who attended an open public counsel/commission meeting on January 23, 2024,” Stuart Alterman, a partner at Alterman and Associates LLC, wrote in a January 25th tort claim sent to city and school officials.

“While attending this meeting he was lawfully engaging in public activism. Justin Mercado intentionally acted in a grossly negligent manner and assaulted the claimant without justification … for no legitimate reason and was otherwise intimidated and threatened by Mercado.”

A tort claim against a government agency must be filed within 90 days in order for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit, which typically happens six months after the filing date.

Filipowski, who has produced YouTube videos focusing on the 1st Amendment and police misconduct mostly in New York and Connecticut since the end of 2020, and is better known by his stage name: LeRoy Truth Investigations.

He has been a frequent critic of state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack since mid-December and tensions seemingly boiled over at the January 23rd board of commissioners meeting.

The incident in question, which occurred shortly after the meeting ended, has thus far only been shown in a short Instagram reel that shows Mercado, the board of education secretary, grabbing at Filipowski’s phone, which was being used to film, before the video cuts.

No other footage of the incident has been released yet (the city does not record their public meetings) and the Union City Police Department did not respond to inquiries about the investigation.

Sources with knowledge of the situation, who spoke under the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said that Mercado was not facing any indictable charges and would likely only be charged with disorderly persons offenses, if anything.

Filipowski deferred comment to Alterman, who said that while Filipowski was not physically injured, Mercado still “engaged in tortuous conduct” that damaged his client’s phone.

“Mr. Filipowski is a victim of Mr. Mercado‚Äôs actions while Mercado was engaging in his official duties during an open public meeting,” he told HCV.

“Mr. Filipowski suffered including but not limited to embarrassment, fear, anxiety, and clearly offensive touching all of which is being digested and investigated at present.”

In videos uploaded to his YouTube channel, Filipowski has alleged that the incident has not been investigated properly, highlighting that he has still not been able to obtain a copy of the police report and surveillance footage from the incident.

Attorneys for the city did not return emails and calls seeking comment, while a spokesman for the BOE did not return an email seeking comment.


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