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Civil Rights Issue Arises In NYPD Officer Arrest

A New York City police officer was arrested recently and charged with civil rights violations after he allegedly falsely accused a man of resisting arrest and followed that up with a racial slur, The New York Times reports.

This is the second recent example of a NYPD officer being charged with a civil rights violation. In Brooklyn recently, we reported on our blog that a seven-year veteran of the force was charged with pepper spraying and handcuffing a person, then accessing state and federal databases to check the person’s background after an incident outside a bar owned of one of the officer’s relatives.Accusations of civil rights violations in New York can not only spark outrage, but can demoralize an entire police department. Big-city departments seem to constantly come under fire for race-related allegations, which sometimes lead to criminal charges.

Both the officers who face these charges and the victims who have been cast aside as second-class citizens require legal representation. A lawyer who has the experience on both sides of the issue should be hired to analyze the situation and best represent the client.

In this case, the 32-year-old white police officer is accused of approaching a black man on Targee Street in Staten Island in plain clothes and unmarked police cruiser in April and frisking him.

When the officer found nothing illegal, the man complained about the treatment and asked for his badge number. The officer arrested him and charged him with resisting arrest, telling the man he didn’t appreciate being treated with disrespect, The New York Times reports.

The officer’s report states the man flailed his arms, kicked his legs and pushed the officer during the arrest. The man spent 36 hours in custody. According to a federal complaint filed against the officer, investigators found text messages and intercepted phone calls on the night of the arrest that show the officer exaggerated facts in the report.

He not only is charged with a misdemeanor civil rights violation, but also extortion and insurance fraud, which could add up to 20 years in prison. The extortion charge is unrelated to this incident, but relates to the officer, who runs a plowing business on the side. Allegedly he lured a man he believed stole his snowplow to a parking lot, where the man was beaten by eight men.

The insurance fraud charges come from him allegedly telling a snow plow worker to bash a truck he owned and then say it was an accident. Investigators allegedly have a recording of the officer’s voice saying “these guys are dead” after learning he was being investigated for the beating.

This will be an interesting case for several reasons. The first is that federal prosecutors rarely file charges in a criminal complaint. They typically take the case to a grand jury, which has to decide whether or not to indict. Perhaps they feel the evidence is insufficient.

Second, the case is based on three completely different situations, which could be difficult for the jury to figure out. Whatever the resolution, let’s hope the victim and the officer receive fair treatment.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides civil rights legal counsel in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

More Blog Entries:

NYPD Officer Faces civil Rights Violation, Criminal Charges After Brawl: October 9, 2011
Additional Resources:

Officer held in Civil Rights Case After Frisking, by Mosi Secret, The New York Times