QUEENS, N.Y. (WPIX) – The way a neighbor in Queens, New York, handled a noise complaint against a family who lives on the other side of his fence is now the subject of a lawsuit that alleges racist acts.
Marcus Rosebrock is the defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by attorneys for Yves and Claude Duroseau. The couple hosted a garden party in the Forest Hills neighborhood to celebrate the birthday and engagement of Dr. Yves Duroseau’s sister.
As the party was wrapping up, according to the Duroseaus, water started raining down on their guests. They soon realized it was a stream of water coming from the neighbor just over their backyard fence.
Around the same time, another neighbor walked into the Duroseaus’ home with her German shepherd.
“We were afraid,” Claude Duroseau said. “We were afraid.”
She’s one of 19 people, almost all of whom are Black or Latino, who filed the lawsuit against Rosebrock. It seeks unspecified damages from him, claiming he and the other neighbor, who is listed in the legal filing only as “Jane Doe,” committed assault, trespass, and civil rights violations, for which they are owed compensation.
The spraying with a hose, the plaintiffs argue in their filing, was a blatantly discriminatory act.
The lead attorney in their case, Derek Sells, of the Cochran Law Firm, said at a Thursday morning news conference that “it hearkens back to images during the civil rights era where civil rights protesters were hosed and menaced.”
Katya Doussous, one of the party attendees, said she’d experienced that point personally.
One piece of evidence in the case is a smartphone video of Katya Doussous shortly after she encountered Rosebrock. After he began spraying water into the party, Katya Doussous and a few others climbed into a children’s playhouse, which is raised a few feet off the ground and abuts the fence with Rosebrock’s yard.
“I was in the treehouse,” Katya Doussous said, “and I know [Rosebrock] saw me. We made eye contact, and I tried to speak with him. Every time I tried to speak, he sprayed me harder and harder.”
In the neighborhood on Thursday, another neighbor, Gene Hart, told Nexstar’s WPIX that there have been instances in the past in which loud music has emanated from the Duroseaus’ home.
However, Hart added that a different home, in what she described as the usually quiet neighborhood, has also been the scene of loud gatherings.
“Every year, he would have a band on his porch,” she said about an unnamed neighbor. “And I found out he was a cop, and that’s why they wouldn’t deal with it” when she called to complain to city authorities, she said.
Double standards like that, said Yves Duroseau, are what he’s fighting.
“If it was me, a Black person, who had done this same act” as Rosebrock had done, he said, “I would’ve been arrested.”
There was no response at Rosebrock’s house Thursday, but his attorney, Brandon M. Gillard, said it was the partygoers who were threatening. Gillard said he has evidence that his client had politely asked his neighbors to turn down their music from the party, which had gone from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, and that partygoers subsequently threatened Rosebrock.
Gillard said the lawsuit, which was filed a year after the incident, makes a weak argument that he looks forward to fighting with evidence in court.
The defendant’s attorney said, in part, in a written statement:
“Marcus refutes any characterization that he is racist or that his actions were racially motivated. To compare Plaintiffs’ aggressive and violent actions at a house party with those of the peaceful protesters of the 1960s is a false equivalence and is disrespectful of the legacy of those who suffered indignities while fighting for civil rights.
As a result of the inflammatory and sensational allegations, Marcus and his family are now receiving harassing and menacing phone calls and death threats, causing him to fear for his and his family’s safety.”