It took five months, but charges were dismissed earlier today against Shawn Randall Thomas, the New York City man arrested for recording a cop inside a subway station in a video that went viral – the umpteenth time they have failed to make charges stick against him for recording cops in public.
Meanwhile, the cop who arrested him, Efrain Rojas, has been cleared of all wrongdoing – even though the video clearly shows he instigated the confrontation by walking up Thomas and barking unlawful order before pouncing on him and arresting him, then deleting his footage, which Thomas recovered.
In fact, Thomas spotted Rojas today after the hearing when he walked three blocks to the district attorney’s office to file a complaint against the officer. Rojas was signing in to work. Thomas was wearing his PINAC shirt. They both eyed each other wordlessly. Rojas was not expected to show up to court because it was only a hearing and not a trial.
Thomas had tried to file a complaint against Rojas with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office after his February arrest, but was refused because the case was still pending.
But even today, after his charges of disorderly conduct, trespassing, resisting and obstruction were dismissed, they still wouldn’t accept his complaint.
“They keep blocking me from making my complaint,” he said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
Not that he expects his complaint with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office to go anywhere.
Last year, he filed a complaint with the district attorney’s office over another unlawful arrest where he was video recording outside a police station, but never heard anything back from them, even though it’s been months.
Today, he was told that he needed to file his complaint with internal affairs.
But internal affairs already investigated the incident and wrote it off by saying Rojas was simply guilty of being “discourteous” to Thomas, which is not against policy and may even be a requirement for all we know.
Nevertheless, he is now going to file a federal lawsuit against the NYPD over the arrest, which will make it at least the third lawsuit filed against the department this year for unlawful arrests for video recording. Earlier this year, the city dished out $55,000 to another videographer who was unlawfully arrested as well as made another unlawful arrest of a man video recording them in public.
The issue has gotten so bad that the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board earlier this year announced it would launch “a study” to determine if there is a problem.
Of course there is a problem, but not for the officers themselves who have learned they can make unlawful arrests, even get sued for making unlawful arrests, and still continue to make unlawful arrests without any disciplinary action against them.