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 complaint.
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 complaint said.
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 activity.
Charles is seeking an unspecified amount in damages. In a statement, she called the incident a “shocking abuse of power.”
The NYPD has repeatedly defended the practice, saying it has helped reduce crime and get illegal guns off the street.
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 black New Yorkers* 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.
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