In Second Occupy Wall Street Protest Trial, Police Claims Again Rejected

NYPDBarricades.jpg
NYPD barricades, not protesters, blocked traffic in the Financial District November 17.
Another day, another Occupy Wall Street trial, another black eye for the police. Just two days after the first Occupy Wall Street protest case to go to trial ended with the NYPD's version of events unraveling, the same thing happened again in New York Criminal Court this morning.

Jessica Hall, an Occupy Wall Street protester, was arrested on November 17 at the intersection of Williams and Pine streets in Lower Manhattan and charged with disorderly conduct for obstructing traffic. Hall's charges were the same as those of Alexander Arbuckle, who was acquitted on Tuesday.

But as in Arbuckle's case, the police version of events was debunked; it wasn't the person on trial who was preventing traffic from moving, but the police themselves.

On the stand, Hall's arresting officer, Sgt. Michael Soldo, said he arrested her because she was blocking traffic. But as Soldo admitted under cross-examination, and as the NYPD's own video documentation confirmed, it was actually the NYPD metal barricades running all the way across William Street that was preventing vehicles from passing.

At the time of her arrest, Hall was about a foot away from the police barricades.

After Soldo's testimony, Hall's lawyers, Marty Stolar and Elena Cohen, moved to dismiss. Judge Matthew Sciarrino agreed that the prosecution hadn't made its case.

"The police arrested people willy-nilly without any determination that they had actually committed the offenses that they were charged with," Stolar told the Voice afterwards. "That's what tends to criminalize protest activity."

Today's ruling, coupled with Tuesday's, have presented police efforts to criminalize protest activity "a temporary roadblock," Stolar said, adding that the profusion of cameras at Occupy Wall Street protests have made it harder for police to get away with fabricating stories to justify arrests.

"I've seen this from the first arrests back in September," Stolar said. "Some people are charged with resisting arrest (which ups the stakes to a crime) and police are claiming in complaints that people are kicking their legs and twisting their bodies. And then when you look at the video, it's just not there -- the people are being totally cooperative, and those charges were just put in there to make the person arrested look bad."

Despite this pattern, Stolar said that police officers' qualified immunity mean it's unlikely they'll suffer any consequences for misrepresenting the facts to justify their arrests of protesters.

Previous Coverage:

[npinto@villagevoice.com] [@macfathom]

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32 comments
Jordan Wallick
Jordan Wallick

Love how the cops get immunity... wonder what they will do next, since they cant get in any trouble it seems... bad bad NYPD... you should all be ashamed to call yourselves police!!

Marc
Marc

The culture that encourages this come right from above - Bloomberg and Kelly, both need to go.  Kelly is being pushed to run for mayor, Bloomberg is protecting those who sent his personal worth from 4 billion to 20 billion plus.  They both need to be stopped and the public needs to be educated about why a 'post 9/11 world' should not mean allowing those in power to abuse whatever is left of the BIll of Rights.

KtDuB
KtDuB

I've said it and will always say it: cops abuse their power and will continue to do so.

Eric_Jaffa
Eric_Jaffa

"Qualified immunity" should be repealed.

Cops who falsely-arrest us should be personally sued.

Jim Strathmeyer
Jim Strathmeyer

Why can't the defense force to officer to admit why she was arrested??? Seems like that's needed in order to properly arrest someone???

Skywalker
Skywalker

So qualified immunity allows police officers to perjure themselves in court?

Robert Pope
Robert Pope

Why do you think so many states are trying to make it illegal to film the police?

MatthewJamesGoodwin
MatthewJamesGoodwin

Perhaps the police should be charged.  Malicious prosecution, attempting to pervert the course of justice, perjury, conspiracy, etc.

Petrushka
Petrushka

Soon there will not be a police enforcement issue. Surveillance and armed drones will fly above the cities and so called non lethal weapons will be directed at the protestors.  The Korporations must protect their stranglehold on the serfs. 

j_600
j_600

Video evidence helps keep the record straight. Montreal riot cops also have been turning up on video cracking heads and using their cruisers for crowd dispersal. Trying to paint the students as the problem is less convincing when evidence of police brutality is front and center.

Connie111
Connie111

It is awful that police get away with lying, perjury, assaulting, false arrests, claiming they were hit. .. . the list goes ON & ON!!  Just like fictitious bank charges!  PUT the LYING NYPD in PRISON where they belong!  They are a disgrace to the City of New York, a disgrace to the State of New York and a total SHAME on our whole country!!!  OCCUPY!

Kevin Schmidt
Kevin Schmidt

Why do the police get "qualified immunity"? I thought immunity was for snitches who don't want to go to jail and so they testify against their partners in crime.

And why does having "qualified immunity" allow anyone to lie under oath or when filing police reports? That is outrageous! Here is the Wikipedia definition of "qualified immunity":

'...qualified immunity is designed to shield government officials from actions "insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known."'

Hmm. Nothing in that definition allows anyone to commit perjury. Cops know when they are lying, and they know lying under oath is perjury. One could also argue that the cops knew they were filing bogus charges against both defendants.

Both corrupt, lying cops should be immediately fired and they should lose any medical benefits and pension too. Then they both should be tried for committing felonies by filing false reports that they knew were false.

Theresa 'Darklady' Reed
Theresa 'Darklady' Reed

If they can't be punished for all the false arrests so far, can't they be stopped from continuing them? It seems to me that this is a huge waste of dwindling tax dollars. 

anna mcallister
anna mcallister

4th paragraph from the bottom you misspell the lawyers name

shanob
shanob

Qualified immunity?  They certainly are qualified LIARS.  That is a FACT.

Lori
Lori

Exactly. All of these lying officers, if they were under my command would be out. They are a disgrace to the uniform and to the city they work for!

mrose4243
mrose4243

"...the profusion of cameras at Occupy Wall Street protests have made it harder for police to get away with fabricating stories to justify arrests."This makes me wonder how much NYPD got away with PRIOR to OWS and all those cameras.  How many innocents have been arrested just to feed the Prison Industrial Complex, and fulfill NYPD quotas?

Jim N
Jim N

I too would like an answer to this.  Please, don't just throw that in the story and not explain it.  

Jim Strathmeyer
Jim Strathmeyer

Actually they get to keep some of the money the confiscate during arrests, so it's always a win for them. Not to mention the quotas they have to keep up so that the people who run the jails can make plenty of money.

David Flint
David Flint

yes, the DA can drop the charges. On top of that, with the judge's rulings there can now be wrongful arrest lawsuits and other civil suits against the city for their treatment of civilians

diceytroop
diceytroop

Thing is, they're being instructed to lie, or put in a position of having to lie, by their superiors who are ordering them to carry out these repressive anti-speech tactics. Those arrests serve an immediate -- and totally illegal -- "crowd-control" purpose. To the NYPD, the legal system is an inconvenience to be dealt with after the fact, however needed. They're obviously not super concerned with getting convictions.

Jim Strathmeyer
Jim Strathmeyer

Unfortunately, Lori, they'd probably recognize you as a trouble maker and get rid of you long before you had the chance to do that. Maybe they'd sexually harrass you until you left, or get you sent to a mental institution?

totalguerra
totalguerra

If under my command I would have them sent to prison for teason against America..... or shot for breaking their oath to america!

Webfairy
Webfairy

Sacco and VanZetti for two.

Kevin Schmidt
Kevin Schmidt

 Thus the reason why neither of you are in command. They don't like you incorruptible, honest Serpico types.

Richard
Richard

How far up does this corruption go?

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