'It could have been me'
In July 2007, Ed Nance was driving on East 87th Street with his cousin one night when Van Dyke and his then-partner pulled him over, purportedly because the front license plate was missing on his mother's Chevrolet — a claim disputed by Nance.
Nance alleged in his lawsuit as well as in his complaint to internal affairs that the partner ordered him out of the car and then slammed him over the hood of the squad car, causing injuries to Nance's neck and face. Van Dyke then forcibly handcuffed him, pulling his arms back violently and causing injuries to the tendons in his shoulders as well as one rotator cuff, according to the suit.
In a deposition taken before the case went to trial, Nance said when he asked the officers why they were roughing him up, they swore at him repeatedly and threatened him with arrest. Van Dyke then threw Nance into the back of the squad car while they questioned his cousin, who was arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana.
Asked if he was concerned for his safety, Nance was quoted in a transcript as testifying, "Basically yes, because every story I hear about the police getting pulled over in my neighborhood, they beating them up, they pulling them out of the car. Some people die."
After about 20 minutes, Van Dyke returned to the squad car and yanked Nance out painfully by the arms, according to the suit. He was issued a ticket for the missing license plate and told his mother's car would be towed because of his cousin's pot possession charge. Records show the misdemeanor was dismissed at the first court date.
In his sworn deposition, Van Dyke testified he was concerned Nance could be dangerous because he hadn't pulled over immediately when his partner activated the emergency lights.
"Just didn't feel right," Van Dyke said, according to a transcript.
Van Dyke testified that once Nance was out of the car, he was loud and belligerent, causing Van Dyke to further fear for his safety because he might be violent or armed with a weapon.
When Nance's attorney, Michael McCready, asked specifically why he was concerned about Nance, Van Dyke said, "His actions ... his voice escalating, for one."
Van Dyke denied using excessive force in handcuffing Nance and said he couldn't recall seeing his partner slam him over the hood of the car.
In the months after the incident, Nance went through two shoulder surgeries and was taking medication for pain and anxiety that was making it difficult to sleep, according to his testimony. In October 2009, a federal jury found the officers had used excessive force, awarding Nance $350,000 in damages. The judge later ordered the city to also pay $180,000 in legal fees of Nance's attorneys, records show.
By March 2011 IPRA cleared both Van Dyke and his partner of all the allegations due to a lack of evidence, records show.
"Although (Nance) sustained injuries to his shoulders, there is no way to determine the exact cause of his injuries," IPRA concluded. "There were no independent witnesses present during the incident."
In the five years since, Nance has tried to put the incident behind him. Surgeries have repaired his damaged shoulders, and he's gone back to his second job refereeing high school basketball games. But hearing that Van Dyke was under investigation for killing someone brought it all back, he said.
"It makes me feel like it could have been me," Nance said.