Civil Rights attorney discusses the arrest and beating of Kang Wong for jaywalking
The New York Post recently reported on an incident involving an 84 year old man on the Upper West Side that was arrested and beaten by police officers after supposedly jaywalking. The article explained that Kang Wong, an 84-year-old with limited English skills, was stopped by police officers after walking across the street against the light. Of course, jaywalking is so common in New York that it's practically an Olympic sport, but the Mayor's Office defended the NYPD's new crackdown on jaywalkers as being designed to curb the rash of recent pedestrian traffic deaths.
As is often the case in street-level police interactions, an apparent misunderstanding or miscommunication between the police officer and the citizen led to an escalation. Now, instead of a ticket for jaywalking, Ms. Wong has a bleeding head wound to deal with and faces a desk appearance ticket in Manhattan for resisting arrest (Penal Law Section 205.30, a class A misdemeanor), obstruction of governmental administration (Penal Law Section 195.05, a class A misdemeanor), and disorderly conduct (Penal Law Section 240.20, a violation). These crimes are potentially punishable by up to a year in prison.
Resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, and disorderly conduct charges are routinely applied to people that have been wrongfully arrested as a way to justify police misconduct.. Defendants facing these charges often accept plea bargains to violations or low-level misdemeanors in order to avoid the risk of going to trial and getting jail after losing a trial (in these cases sometimes referred to as a "swearing contest") with one of "New York's Finest." That is a shame, because police officers know that a defendant's plea will almost certainly absolve them of any civil liability or departmental discipline, and the acquiescence of defendants only reinforces this misconduct.
Should the case against Mr. Wong ultimately be dismissed or result in an acquittal, however, he may very well have a viable lawsuit against the police officers for false arrest and/or police brutality, among other torts. He would need to file a notice of claim within 90 days of this incident in order to preserve his rights under state law, but he could also file in federal court up to three years afterwards.
If you or a loved one have been wrongfully arrested or physically abused by police officers, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorney immediately. Our team of three former prosecutors has succeeded in exposing police misconduct on several occasions, resulting in dismissals of criminal charges and significant settlements in civil rights lawsuits against the NYPD.