A man who spent 11 hours in jail after a New York City police officer snatched a camera and threw him against a fence earlier this year has filed a lawsuit.
William Paybarah, 24, was riding his bicycle when he allegedly sped through a red light, prompting NYPD officer Christian Rich to approach him.
Paybarah pulled out his iPhone and began recording. Rich told him to put the phone away.
When he did not put the phone away, Rich snatched it from him and arrested him.
Another officer later told Paybarah it could have been a weapon.
According to the New York Daily News:
Paybarah was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and running a red light, police said. A judge adjourned his case and assigned him to community service.
“It should have been a ticket for a red light,” insisted Paybarah, a graphic designer who said he didn’t fight back. “I exercised my right and the cop took it as a threat and retaliated by exercising force on me.”
His wasn’t the first complaint filed against cops over their reactions to being recorded.
The CCRB, an independent police watchdog, has begun to look into complaints like his and could make training suggestions to the NYPD.
But its not about training. It’s about leadership. Because by now, it’s no secret that citizens have the right to record police in public.
But it’s also no secret that police can get away with these arrests with absolutely no discipline as we’ve seen in the case of Shawn Randall Thomas, so training is not going to change anything.
And for that matter, neither are lawsuits as the NYPD have dished out more than a billion dollars over the last decade.
According to CBS:
The NYPD is getting sued more than ever — and residents are paying the price.
The number of civil suits against the New York Police Department has doubled in the past decade to a record high of more than 9,500 filed in 2012 — at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1 billion, according to a New York Daily News review of the claims published Sunday.
The newspaper reported that 55 NYPD officers in the department of 34,000 members have been sued more than 10 times in the past decade.
One Bronx narcotics detective, Peter Valentin, has been sued 28 times resulting in nearly $900,000 in settlements, according to the report.
So let’s stop buying into the myth that it’s only a matter of training because the truth is, they are trained to do exactly what they’ve been doing, which is violating citizens’ rights any chance they get.
If anybody needs training, it’s the citizens of New York to record every interaction with NYPD, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.