Article

ECBAWM Client Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against The City of New York for Abuse of Power

Juliet Dietrich—a disabled, 68-year-old former corrections officer—has filed suit against the City of New York and Department of Citywide Administrative Services Special Officer Charles Parker for false arrest and excessive force.

On August 6, 2018, Special Officer Parker pulled her from her car and arrested her over a perceived parking violation. Ms. Dietrich’s permit for her disability allowed her to use spaces designated for “any governmental agency.” Nonetheless, Special Officer Parker was angry that Ms. Dietrich was occupying a parking spot reserved for those associated with the Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. Apparently, an able-bodied member of the Borough President’s administration—David Johnson—had demanded that her car be moved. Special Officer Parker reached into the car, grabbed Ms. Dietrich by the arm, and yanked her from the vehicle onto the street. Special Officer Parker then arrested Ms. Dietrich on false charges. Ms. Dietrich had no record. But because of the defendants, she was held in custody for more than 12 hours and then forced to fight false charges against her for nine months. Ms. Dietrich’s case challenges this abuse of power on the doorstep of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall.

Ms. Dietrich is represented by ECBAWM attorneys O. Andrew F. Wilson and Alanna Kaufman. An article about the case in the New York Daily News is available here.

Article

Settlement of Jane Doe’s Lawsuit for Shackling During Pregnancy and Labor: NYPD Will Pay $610,000 and Reform Patrol Guide Procedures

On July 3, 2019, ECBAWM reached a $610,000 settlement in the case of Jane Doe, a 28-year old Bronx woman who was arrested and shackled by the NYPD when she was 40 weeks pregnant after she was arrested for a misdemeanor on February 7, 2018. NYPD officers and supervisors insisted on keeping Ms. Doe in shackles for approximately 30 hours, even while she was in active labor and during her post-partum recovery with her infant daughter at the hospital. The NYPD kept Ms. Doe shackled during her transport, labor, and post-partum delivery despite being repeatedly warned of the health risks and illegality by hospital doctors and staff.

As part of the settlement, Ms. Doe insisted that the NYPD also agree to amend its Patrol Guide to prevent its officers from ever violating the rights and safety of another woman through the unlawful use of shackles. “Because of Jane Doe’s bravery and determination in pursuing this case, the NYPD will now change its procedures to better protect pregnant women in the future,” said ECBAWM partner Katie Rosenfeld.

Ms. Doe is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Katie Rosenfeld and Ashok Chandran.

“She Was Forced to Give Birth in Handcuffs. Now Her Case Is Changing Police Rules,” New York Times
“Woman who was forced to give birth in handcuffs awarded $610,000 in New York City settlement,” USA Today
“City of New York pays $610,000 to a woman who was forced to give birth in handcuffs,” CNN
“Bronx Woman Who Was Shackled, Handcuffed When She Went Into Labor Was ‘Terrified for Herself and for Her Baby’,” Newsweek

Article

ECBAWM Represents Bronx High School Senior Kymani Johnson in His Effort to Hold the NYPD Accountable

As reported in the New York Daily News on June 10, 2019, Kymani Johnson is a 19-year-old high school senior in the Bronx who plans to become a lawyer. On Monday, May 27, 2019, Mr. Johnson was wrongfully arrested by the New York City Police Department at approximately 2:00 pm in Haffen Park, after he attempted to record NYPD officers in an interaction with another individual. NYPD officers grabbed Mr. Johnson, threw him again a fence, and repeatedly punched him. He was then handcuffed, arrested, and held for many hours until a judge dismissed the baseless charges against him. On the day after his arrest, the same NYPD officers went to Mr. Johnson’s house, where they harassed and threatened him, in an apparent attempt to intimidate him from reporting their misconduct. Mr. Johnson is represented by ECBAWM attorney Katie Rosenfeld.

Article

Jury Awards $14.3 Million for Wrongful Police Shooting

Yesterday, a Manhattan federal court jury awarded $14.325 million to the estate of John Collado, who was shot and killed by a New York City police officer in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan on September 6, 2011. The jury found that the officer, James Connolly, used excessive force when he shot and killed Mr. Collado.

Mr. Collado was shot for being a Good Samaritan. The shooting occurred when Connolly, who was working as a plainclothes narcotics officer, got into a fight with a suspect on the street, and Mr. Collado, who was unarmed, tried to break it up.

Connolly testified that he shot Mr. Collado because Mr. Collado put him in a chokehold – but the jury specifically found that was false. The jury found that Connolly’s story did not hold up against the witnesses’ testimony, the forensic evidence, and the video evidence. Since the shooting, Connolly has been promoted by the NYPD; he is now a sergeant.

“My husband was a loving, caring man who was doing nothing more than trying to help,” Mr. Collado’s wife, Amarilis Collado, said. “This verdict is confirmation that John should never have been killed that day. After seven years of fighting, I finally feel like justice has been served,” Mrs. Collado added.

“The jury thoughtfully considered the evidence in this case and determined that what happened here was wrong, and that the Collado family is deserving of a significant award,” said ECBAWM partner Sam Shapiro. Mr. Shapiro and ECBA partner Earl Ward represented Mrs. Collado.

This case was covered in the New York Daily News.

Article

Harlem Black Business Owner Arrested for Being a Business Owner While Black

The law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP (ECBAWM) yesterday evening filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three Black men who are among the many Black New Yorkers and Black Americans arrested for simply doing the normal things that normal people do—driving a car down the street, having a barbecue, or, in this case, doing one’s job.

Plaintiff Dr. Clyde Pemberton is the CEO of the corporation that owns MIST Harlem, a restaurant and entertainment venue. The complaint alleges that Dr. Pemberton and two MIST employees were arrested on June 1, 2017 simply because they are Black. Dr. Pemberton went to aid a white woman who was unconscious and being dragged through MIST by her two white friends. The ill woman’s friends screamed racial epithets at him and attacked him. MIST employees called 911 for an ambulance. When the paramedics and the police arrived, Dr. Pemberton and two MIST employees were arrested for allegedly falsely imprisoning the ill woman. The police never interviewed them before arresting them.

Plaintiff’s attorney Elizabeth S. Saylor said, “It is time for the NYPD to be held accountable. The NYPD must stop reflexively defending its officers without even conducting an investigation. The NYPD must take real action to stamp out discrimination by holding accountable those officers who violate citizens’ constitutional rights.”

Despite having done nothing but express concern for a patron in danger, suffer an unprovoked racist attack, and try to deescalate a volatile situation, Dr. Pemberton and two other MIST employees were arrested, held at a police station overnight, and forced to go to court to fight charges for several months, before the district attorney finally dismissed the charges.

“This is exactly the kind of interaction that destroys trust in law enforcement in minority communities,” said Ms. Saylor. This incident has left Plaintiffs deeply shaken. They had not previously known the fear, the disrespect, or the pain of being the victims of arbitrary and heavy-handed conduct by the police. Dr. Pemberton had even previously worked with the police. He ran a Harlem-based community mental health center, performed psychological evaluations for the NYPD, and served as a psychiatric consultant to the Newark Police Department. “This lawsuit seeks to remedy the injustice perpetrated by the NYPD,” said Ms. Saylor.

Read coverage of the case in The New York TimesNew York Daily News, New York Post, New York Law Journal, Hip Hop Wired, and The Grio.

The three plaintiffs are represented by Elizabeth Saylor and Doug Lieb.

Article

ECBAWM Files Class-Action Challenging Over-Detentions of People Entitled to Release on Bail from New York City Jails

On October 4, 2017, ECBAWM and co-counsel Romano & Kuan PLLC filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of presumptively innocent criminal defendants held for hours or days in New York City jails despite being entitled to release on bail. The complaint alleges that the City has been deliberately indifferent to the problem of unreasonable systemic delays in accepting bail payments and in processing detainees for release once bail is posted. The suit details a Kafka-esque system where antiquated technology, inadequate staffing, and indifference conspire to keep thousands of
New Yorkers each year in jail for hours or days without any legal basis.

ECBAWM’s Matt Brinckerhoff, Debbie Greenberger, and David Lebowitz, along with Julia Kuan of Romano and Kuan, represent the plaintiffs.

To read the complaint, click here.

“City jails regularly violate detainees’ rights by keeping them locked up too long after bail is posted: lawsuit,” New York Daily News

Article

ECBAWM Brings Wrongful Arrest Lawsuit on Behalf of Keith Mitchell

ECBAWM brought suit on behalf of Keith Mitchell against the NYPD detective who wrongfully arrested and prosecuted him for a burglary and assault he did not commit. Mr. Mitchell spent more than two years at Rikers Island waiting for a trial to clear his name before being acquitted by a jury. Mr. Mitchell is represented by Debra L. Greenberger and Doug Lieb.

Article

NYPD Announces New Policies Designed to Diminish Language Barriers in Domestic Abuse Incidents

Legal Services NYC, with support and additional counsel from ECBAWM’s Matthew Brinckerhoff, has reached a settlement with the NYPD in Padilla-Torres v. City of New York, a 2013 federal discrimination lawsuit alleging that the civil rights of domestic violence survivors with limited English proficiency had been violated by denying them interpreters. As part of the settlement, the NYPD has agreed to equip all officers in the field with smartphones that can interpret over 240 languages. Additionally, over the next 18 months, the NYPD will provide its officers with training on how to use this smartphone application and when to recognize that an interpreter is necessary.

The plaintiffs in the case were denied safety and interpreters after being attacked by their partners.  In response to calls of domestic abuse, officers would often let the abusers speak on behalf of their victims. In some of the more egregious instances, this would result in the arrest of the victims themselves, as was the case for Arlet Macareno, one of the plaintiffs. After being pushed down a flight of stairs by her husband, the police arrived at Ms. Macareno’s home without a Spanish interpreter. Ms. Macareno tried to explain that she was the victim of her husband’s aggression, but instead of arresting him, the officers arrested Ms. Macareno and charged her with obstruction of justice. This settlement will provide NYPD officers with the resources to ensure that no New Yorker is subjected to the same injustices as Ms. Macareno.

To read the New York Times’ coverage of the settlement, click here.  To read the Legal Services NYC press release, click here.

Article

Tamir Rice’s Family Calls for Special Prosecutor to Proceed with Criminal Charges Against Police

ECBAWM represents the mother, sister, and estate administrator of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers in November 2014 while he was playing in the park. On October 16, 2015, ECBAWM sent a letter on behalf of Tamir’s family to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, criticizing his handling of the criminal investigation into the police officers who killed Tamir and calling for the appointment of an independent special prosecutor.

The letter criticizes the prosecutor’s 11-month delay in presenting this case to a grand jury and condemns his decision to retain pro-police “experts” and release their reports exculpating the officers to the media. The letter documents that the prosecutor’s so-called “experts” have a track record of bias in favor of the police. It also lays out some of the many legal and factual errors in their reports, including that they ignored contradictory video evidence, the fact that the shooter’s prior employer found him emotionally unfit to be a police officer and the Department of Justice’s finding that the Cleveland police have a pattern of using excessive force.

Because of the way the prosecutor has handled the case so far, the Rice family now believes that the grand jury presentation will be nothing short of a charade aimed at whitewashing this police killing of a 12-year-old child.

Read ECBAWM’s letter to Prosecutor McGinty here

ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, and Zoe Salzman represent the mother, sister, and estate administrator of Tamir Rice.

“Calling probe a ‘whitewash,’ Tamir Rice’s family asks Cleveland prosecutor to recuse himself,” The Washington Post
“Two Reviews of Tamir Rice Shooting in Cleveland Are Seen as Shielding Police,” New York Times
“Cleveland Officer Used Reasonable Force in Shooting of Tamir Rice, Experts Find,” Wall Street Journal

Article

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP Now Lead Counsel in Tamir Rice Police Shooting

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP (ECBAWM) is lead counsel representing the Estate of Tamir Rice. Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old child, was tragically shot and killed by Cleveland police officers on November 22, 2014, in a case that has now received widespread attention across the nation. The firm also represents Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, and his sister. ECBAWM is co-counseling the case with The Chandra Law Firm, LLC from Cleveland, Ohio and FirmEquity of Chicago, Illinois.

.