9 Oct 2014

NYPD accused of theft of $1,000 cash and pepper-spraying man celebrating birthday


Lamard Joye was celebrating his 35th birthday with friends last month near a basketball court in Coney Island, Brooklyn. At some point, the police arrived and stopped a friend of his.

From several feet away, Mr. Joye objected. What happened next is now under investigation by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, which is in possession of a cellphone video of the ensuing confrontation.

The video of the encounter, on Sept. 16 at around 12:20 a.m., shows a police officer steering Mr. Joye against a chain-link fence to pat him down. “Look,” Mr. Joye says. “Look, you see this? Look.” The police officer reaches into Mr. Joye’s pocket, removes what appears to be a folded stack of bills and steps back.

“Give me my money,” Mr. Joye says in the video. The police officer then sprays something at him.

Mr. Joye said the officer took more than $1,000 in cash and deployed pepper spray.

In the video, others in the crowd begin protesting. “He just stole his money,” says a voice close to the phone’s microphone. “How you going to take his money?” someone else says.

Mr. Joye, who was not arrested that night, said he has not gotten his money back; his lawyer, Robert Marinelli, said he has received no explanation of where that money was.

The Brooklyn district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, said his office was “aware of the alleged incident and it is being actively and thoroughly investigated.”

The officer’s identity is not known. The New York Police Department said in a statement:

“The incident was precipitated by a call of a man with a gun. When officers arrived at the scene, they encountered numerous people at the location. As a result of the allegations, the matter is under investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau and CCRB,” referring to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Mr. Marinelli said he has submitted pay and bank records to the district attorney showing his client, who works in construction, had earned a few thousand dollars in early September and had withdrawn a couple of thousand dollars, intending to celebrate his birthday with his wife.

“I believe that this officer made an assumption that any money Mr. Joye possessed was obtained illegally and therefore he would not report the theft,” Mr. Marinelli said. “This assumption was wrong. Mr. Joye is a hardworking taxpayer. An incident like this would never occur in a more affluent section of the city.”

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