The problem with lawsuits is that you eventually have to prove your claims. Now, this is not to say that Hadiyah Charles' claims are not true. It's just going to be really difficult to actually win.
Charles was walking home in Bedford-Stuyvesant earlier this year when she ran across two of New York's finest, who were allegedly harassing a trio of black teenagers. The teens were reportedly fixing a bicycle. The officers stopped-and-frisked, Charles filmed with her cell phone, and she ended up in jail on disorderly conduct charges that were later dropped, reports Reuters.
To be clear, New Yorkers have a legal right to film police officers in public, as long as they keep a reasonable distance away (for safety). After all, New York is not North Korea, or Illinois for that matter.
After being released, and consulting the NYCLU, Charles decided to file a lawsuit against the NYPD. She actually does have a number of claims here, if her version of the facts proves true. She could sue for false arrest, which allows punitive damages if the officer knew the arrest was meritless. She could also sue for battery and infringement on her free speech and freedom of the press rights.
The problem will be proving the case. According to the Gothamist, Charles lost her phone. She has no video of the stop-and-frisk or of the confrontation that occurred afterwards. She also decided not to file a complaint upon her release, as she was afraid that she would be detained longer.
That leaves her word against the words of two officers, plus that pesky dropped disorderly conduct charge. The officers will say that the charge was dropped because they didn’t want to waste precious resources on such a trivial matter. Charles will claim that it was dropped because it was bogus and because she was arrested without proper cause.
Again, it boils down to he said, she said, and quite possibly, an unwinnable case.
- Discuss Police Brutality With a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- NY lawsuit protests Brooklyn woman’s arrest (Associated Press)
- Cops Shoot a Ninja With an IKEA Knife, Confiscate a Camera (FindLaw’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog)
- NY Times Photog Stolarik Abused for Third Time by NYPD (FindLaw’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog)