Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy: Wrongful Arrest and Police Brutality Lawsuits Begin

Given the widely circulated police activities to control protest, including the pepper spraying of students at UC-Davis, as well as other incidents, damage lawsuits against law enforcement will most likely increase.

The complaint in Carpenter v. City of New York, filed in the Southern District of New York today, alleges violations of the Fourth Amendment resulting from false arrest and excessive force. 

The specific incident was October 15, 2011: an occupy event of a CitiBank in New York City.  Heather Carpenter, a CitiBank account holder, and her fiance', Julio Jose Jimenez-Artunduaga, were caught up in the arrests.  The complaint does allege that Carpenter was there to withdraw her money in protest, but also that she left the bank building after doing so, and that Jimenez-Artunduaga was outside the building.  However, the complaint alleges that the pair were forced back into the bank, and then arrested for trespassing.  (The charges were dropped).

The events were captured on video and photographs, including the photograph of Jimenez-Artunduaga's bloody hand, attached to the complaint as an exhibit.


The complaint includes claims for relief against the city, both for policies and on a theory of supervisory liability.  For example, paragraph 87 alleges:

Upon information and belief, Defendant CITY OF NEW YORK planned and implemented a policy, practice, custom and usage of controlling the OWS protests and those who
attended the bank protests, that was designed to and did preempt lawful activities by ordering and effecting indiscriminate mass arrests, illegally arresting protestors, including bank customers, and needlessly detaining them for excessively long periods. Upon information and belief, the CITY OF NEW YORK consciously disregarded the illegality and unconstitutionality of said arrests and detentions in order to facilitate and promote the CITY OF NEW YORK's desired reputation as corporate friendly and pro-bank.


Criminal Procedure, Current Affairs, Fourteenth Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Web/Tech | Permalink

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"US Federal Appeals Courts ten years ago declared pepper spraying peaceful protesters to be an illegal violation of their 4th amendment rights to be free from excessive force and that officers who cause such felony assault are liable for their actions and do not receive protection of sovereign immunity as their actions are excessive use of force which the 4th amendment prohibits." or

Posted by: Peter William Lount | Nov 22, 2011 7:12:16 AM

It would be interesting to have a full article on the 4th amendment and the test used to determine the limits of what constitutes acceptable force and what constitutes excessive force by the police or other agents of the various governments.

Also, when one is the victim or witnesses the police committing crimes such as excessive force aka felony assault upon people, in any context as well as in protesting, how can one intervene legally? How can one apply the legal right of Citizens Arrest safely to such situations? Obviously if the person isn't going to be grievously harmed or murdered by the police it's likely best to not use force against the police but to collect the evidence against them and identify who is involved and to file Citizens Arrest at the police station with the aid of a lawyer.

I've also heard that in the USA there is a process known as Private Prosecution, is that possible when the prosecutor refuses to press charges against the police? Is it the same thing as citizens arrest? How are they different?

Posted by: Peter William Lount | Nov 22, 2011 7:23:13 AM

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