Article

USA Today Publishes Police Reform Article by ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel

In “Seize the moment: 9 ways to curb police brutality and honor the memory of George Floyd,” ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel writes, “If we translate protests into policy and passion into action, we will honor the memory of George Floyd and begin to address this national problem. If we fail, the next George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or Kenneth Banks is just around the corner.” You can read the full article in USA Today.

Article

ECBAWM Files Notice of Intent to Sue Police Officers Who Shot and Killed Osaze Osagie

ECBAWM, along with co-counsel, filed a Notice of Claim today on behalf of Sylvester and Iyunolu Osagie, the parents of 29-year-old Osaze Osagie, indicating their intent to sue the Pennsylvania State College Police Department (“SCPD”) and the officers who six months ago shot and killed their then 29-year-old son. Sylvester Osagie asked the police to help him find Osaze, so that he could secure treatment for his suicidal son who was suffering a serious mental health crisis. Instead of helping Osaze, an officer shot him three times in the back, killing him.

“The mental health processes in place failed our son. The police procedures also failed our son. And the officers who responded to our son’s apartment failed him as well. We are bringing this case to make sure Osaze is the last person to die under such circumstances,” said Sylvester Osagie.

“Osaze would still be alive today if the police had followed standard procedures for handling mental health emergencies. This tragic loss of life didn’t have to happen; Osaze Osagie did not have to die,” said ECBAWM partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr.

ECBAWM partners Andrew G. Celli, Jr. and Elizabeth Saylor represent the family along with Pennsylvania lawyers Andrew Shubin and Kathleen Yurchak.

“‘Osaze Osagie did not have to die.’ Family announces plans to sue State College police officers,” Centre Daily Times
“Osagie Family To Sue State College Police Department, Officers Involved In Son’s Shooting Death,” Onward State
“Osagies Announce Intent to Sue State College Police Over Son’s Death,” StateCollege.com
“Osagie family will sue State College Police Department, launch independent investigation,” Penn State Daily Collegian

Article

Jazmine Headley Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against the City of New York

Today, ECBAWM client Jazmine Headley filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of New York and its Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) peace officers and New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers who attacked and arrested her at the DeKalb Job Center on December 7, 2018. Simply because Ms. Headley was sitting on the floor waiting for her appointment, these officers brandished a taser in Ms. Headley’s face, forcibly yanked her one-year-old son from her arms, charged her with several crimes, and detained her on Rikers Island for days.  Her experience is just one example of HRA security staff’s widespread abuse of New Yorkers who seek assistance with their public benefits.

Ms. Headley is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Katie Rosenfeld and Emma Freeman.

Press Release
“Woman Whose Child Was Taken in Viral Arrest Video Sues New York City, NYPD,” New York Law Journal
“Jazmine Headley sues city over violent arrest at Brooklyn benefits office,” Politico
“Mom whose baby was ripped from her arms at benefits center sues city,” New York Post
“Mom Whose Baby Was Snatched In Social Services Office Sues City,” Patch

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.

.