Man Arrested For Giving Cops the Finger Sues

Last week, plaintiff Robert Bell filed a complaint (see below) against NYPD officers and the City of New York following his arrest for – any guesses, given the graphic? – giving cops the finger.  Plaintiff brought his claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983, Monell, the New York constitution, and New York common law.  Mr. Bell was charged with violating N.Y. Penal Law § 240.20(3) for making an “obscene gesture.”   The charges were ultimately dropped.

Plaintiff claimed, among other things, that the allegations sworn to by one of the officers were false in numerous respects (see p. 7, ¶¶ 45-46).  This was, alleged plaintiff, done pursuant to a “municipal custom and practice of encouraging officers to make false statements in judicial proceedings and failing to discipline officers when they engage in perjury.”

Specifically, Mr. Bell supports his Monell claim with extensive citations (see pp. 10-25, ¶¶ 61-79) to numerous examples – including civil rights actions filed against the City and prosecutions of NYPD officers – indicating the municipal customs, practices, and policies relating to arresting innocent civilians, planting evidence, making false statements, and failing to “supervise, train, instruct and discipline police officers and encouraging their misconduct”.  It was, according to plaintiff, pursuant to these policies, practices and/or customs that the officer-defendants “felt empowered to arrest [plaintiff] without probable cause and then fabricate and swear to a false story to cover up their blatant violations of [plaintiff’s] constitutional rights.”

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