By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - A Brooklyn woman jailed after
she used her smartphone to film two police officers allegedly
frisking black teenagers slapped the New York Police Department
on Monday with a civil rights lawsuit.
The New York Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in
Brooklyn federal court on behalf of Hadiyah Charles.
Charles said she was walking home in Bedford-Stuyvesant on
June 5 when she spotted two police officers questioning and
frisking three black teenagers who appeared to have been fixing
a bicycle down the street from her home, according to the
When Charles asked the officers what was going on, they
asked her to step away, the lawsuit said. Backing up a few feet,
she took out her smartphone and began to film the incident, the
Charles said she was shoved by the officers, handcuffed,
arrested and held in a jail cell for 90 minutes, the complaint
said. She was charged with disorderly conduct, a charge which
was later dismissed, the complaint said, and none of the three
teens was arrested or found to have engaged in any illegal
Charles is seeking an unspecified amount in damages. In a
statement, she called the incident a "shocking abuse of power."
A representative for the NYPD was not immediately available
for comment Monday. A spokeswoman for the New York City Law
Department, Elizabeth Thomas, said that the city had not yet
been served but would review the lawsuit when it receives a
The NYCLU has been an outspoken critic of the NYPD's
controversial crime-fighting "stop and frisk" tactic, saying it
unfairly targets minorities.
The NYPD has repeatedly defended the practice, saying it has
helped reduce crime and get illegal guns off the street.
"New Yorkers have a constitutional right to film police
activity in public," NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman
said in a statement. That right is particularly important in
places like Bedford-Stuyvesant, she said, since it is among the
"epicenters of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices."
According to the NYCLU, in 2011 NYPD officers conducted more
than 14,000 police stops in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Nearly 92
percent of individuals stopped were black or Latino, and less
than 4 percent of those stops resulted in an arrest, it said.
A class action filed in Manhattan federal court challenging
the stop-and-frisk policy is scheduled to go to trial in March
2013. The lawsuit was filed in 2008 by four blacks who claimed
they were improperly targeted by police because of their race.
In an order last March, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin
said that plaintiffs had established that their cases were
emblematic of a citywide problem.
The case is Charles v. City of New York, U.S. District Court
for the Eastern District of New York, No. 12-6180.
For Charles: Christopher Dunn and Alexis Karteron of the
For the city: Not immediately available.
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