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Case Name Charles v. City of New York PN-NY-0018
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-06180-SLT-SMG ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On December 17, 2012 a Brooklyn resident filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the City of New York. The plaintiff brought this complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging violations of the First and Fourth Amendment to the United States ... read more >
On December 17, 2012 a Brooklyn resident filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the City of New York. The plaintiff brought this complaint under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging violations of the First and Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as violations of Article 1 Sections 8 and 12 of the New York Constitution. The plaintiff, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, asked the court for declaratory relief and compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys' fees and costs, claiming that the NYPD unlawfully arrested her for filming a stop and frisk in her neighborhood. The complaint explains that it challenged the NYPD's practice of interfering with the right of individuals to film police activity in public areas.

Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that on June 5, 2012, after leaving the subway and on the walk to her house, she witnessed two NYPD officers questioning and frisking three youths she recognized from the neighborhood. To the plaintiff, it appeared the youths were only fixing an upturned bicycle. The youths repeatedly protested to the officers that they were only fixing the bicycle and that they had done nothing wrong. She asked the officers what they were doing, and when they brushed off her question, she began to film the event on her cellphone. The officers repeatedly told her to stop filming and to step further back.

After repeatedly requesting that the plaintiff stop filming, one of the officers shoved her. The officers' sergeant was then called to the scene. Subsequently, the plaintiff informed the sergeant that she wished to file a formal complaint. Directly after voicing her desire to file a complaint, she was arrested and transported to the precinct where she was held for about an hour and a half. Her phone and purse were confiscated and the officers repeatedly asked her if she still wished to file a complaint. After issuing her a summons for disorderly conduct and receiving verbal confirmation from her that she did not intend to file a complaint, the officers released the plaintiff on her own cognizance. No criminal charges were filed against her.

On March 11, 2013, the plaintiff moved to file an amended compliant, noting that the parties had conferred and reached resolution of the defendants’ concerns regarding the
claims for declaratory relief, which the defendants had moved to dismiss in their answer. Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold granted the motion and the plaintiff filed an amended complaint excluding the declaratory relief claims and identifying a "John Doe" New York City police officer defendant.

The plaintiffs engaged in discovery between 2013 and 2017. There were ongoing disputes regarding the video the plaintiff took of the officers' stop. The plaintiff's video of the incident went missing days after her arrest, and the defendants sought dismissal of a spoliation sanction.

On October 8, 2014, the defendants moved for summary judgment on three grounds: 1) that the officers had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff; 2) that the plaintiff's retaliation claim required proof that the arrest was motivated by the videotaping and was unavailable when the arrest and subsequent prosecution was supported by probable cause; and 3) that the officers are protected by qualified immunity. The defendants also moved for dismissal of the plaintiff's claims against them for spoliation sanctions as a result of what they alleged was the plaintiff's destruction of the video she took of the subject incident. On February 8, 2017, the court (Judge Sandra L. Townes) denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment, and denied the motion for spoliation sanctions, without prejudice to renewal if the evidence at trial should establish that the video of the incident was likely to favor the defendants.

After further discovery, the parties stipulated to a settlement and order of dismissal on June 7, 2017. The settlement agreement provided for $10,000 in compensation to the plaintiff and $35,000 for the plaintiff's attorney fees and costs for the dismissal of all claims against the defendants. The court ordered the dismissal on June 9, 2017.

Nick Kabat - 02/24/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/13/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Excessive force
Failure to train
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of New York
Plaintiff Description New York resident arrested while filming an arrest.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 2012
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
1:12-cv-06180-SLT-SMG (E.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-NY-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/17/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 16]
PN-NY-0018-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 122] (2017 WL 530460) (E.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0018-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation of Settlement and Order of Dismissal [ECF# 128] (E.D.N.Y.)
PN-NY-0018-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gold, Stephen F. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Townes, Sandra L. (E.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0018-0003 | PN-NY-0018-0004 | PN-NY-0018-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dunn, Christopher (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0018-0001 | PN-NY-0018-0002 | PN-NY-0018-0004 | PN-NY-0018-9000
Hodgson, Robert (New York) show/hide docs
Karteron, Alexis (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0018-0001 | PN-NY-0018-0002 | PN-NY-0018-9000
Kovel, Mariana Louise (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0018-0004 | PN-NY-0018-9000
Wells, Jordan (New York) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Carter, Zachary W. (New York) show/hide docs
Zuckerman, Mark (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0018-0004 | PN-NY-0018-9000

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