BROOKLYN (CN) – Four supporters of the Bushwick 32 – students and community members who were arrested while walking in a friend’s funeral procession – claim that court officers assaulted them at a trial.
In their complaint in Kings County Court, the four plaintiffs say they attended the trial of the Bushwick 32 on Nov. 30, 2007. At recess, they began to “mingle with the students’ lawyers outside of the courtroom, asking about the progress of the case, inquiring about how they can help, and discussing the extensive media coverage,” according to the complaint.
Bushwick Community High School teacher Brian Favors spoke to two attorneys while Jesus Gonzalez listened to the conversations. Both are plaintiffs.
One of the lawyers “reacted angrily” and walked down the hallway to a court officer with whom she had a child, the complaint alleges.
When court reconvened, Favors and Gonzalez returned to their seats, and the court officer ordered a Hofstra student sitting behind them, co-plaintiff John Meekins, to leave the courtroom, they say.
Favors says he realized that “the court officer had ejected the wrong person” because he “shared two physical characteristics.” Favors then told the officer that he had kicked out “the wrong black man with dreadlocks.”
Favors added “that not every man with dreadlocks is the same” and that the officer owed Meekins an apology, the complaint states.
“Meekins informed the officer that he had been racially profiled and pulled piece of paper and pen to take down the officer’s badge number,” according to the complaint.
An officer then made a radio call for a “1085,” which is code for “officer down.”
“A very short time later, court officers swarmed on the area,” the complaint states.
At least 15 officers crowded around the four plaintiffs and arrested them.
In an elevator, Lt. Eugene Sullivan allegedly pushed Gonzalez’s chest and slammed Cox’s face into a wall, causing it to bleed.
The four plaintiffs were charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration and disorderly conduct. They were acquitted.
During the proceedings, however, Favors says he was forced to leave his classroom to sit in New York’s famous “Rubber Room,” and Meekins was placed on academic probation.
The four plaintiffs sued 10 named and two unnamed court officers, alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and assault and battery.
They are represented by David Rankin with Rankin & Taylor of Manhattan.