PROP Written Narratives

The following are excerpts from Bullets Narratives, PROP’s first Narratives project.

  • Francis Destouche, a 53-year-old auto mechanic with a clean record, was walking home in the Bronx in October 2011 when the police stopped him for no apparent reason. They searched him, found nothing, and then accused him of “throwing something away.” The police arrested and held him for 20 hours, causing him to miss his granddaughter’s birth. The charges were dismissed. Destouche’s lawyer stated that the stop and the arrest was a result of the NYPD’s “quota policy.”
  • A 16-year-old Staten Island youth was stopped while walking down the street and detained. The police searched and physically restrained him. Charges were eventually dismissed.
  • Scott Joyner was waiting for a bus in Brooklyn in June 2011 when he saw cops arresting two other people. An officer walked over and grabbed his arm, but released him when he realized that Joyner was just standing at the bus stop. Joyner walked to a pay phone to file a 311 complaint, and the police arrested him for trying to make a complaint. Charges were dismissed.
  • In January 2011, Jamie Jarrett was walking down a Brooklyn street when a van of cops rolled up, got out of the van, and began searching him. They found no weapons or drugs. The officers refused to explain why they were placing him under arrest. The charge of marijuana sale was dismissed, but not before Jarrett spent 48 hours in custody.
  • Kenrick Gray, 32, of Staten Island, was stopped, searched, and detained twice in late 2010 for no apparent reason, the second time resulting in a false arrest. His lawyer reported that racial profiling led to the stops.
  • The police stopped and frisked Jarrett Savage for no apparent reason in October 2010 in Brooklyn. The police pushed him against a wall, searched him, and took him to the precinct, where he was strip-searched in front of another prisoner. The charges were dismissed.
  • Ramon Morales was cleaning his car outside his sister’s house on Cabrini Boulevard in Manhattan in August 2009 when cops approached him, accused him of drug possession, and searched him and the car. They found no drugs but charged him with a DWI, even though he wasn’t driving. Eighteen court appearances and nearly two years later, the charges were dismissed.
  • When Monique Williams asked a police sergeant why she was stopped, he said to her, “Because I can,” a statement that doesn’t appear in the NYPD’s official stop-and-frisk policy.
  • Julius Dixon was driving in the Bronx when the NYPD pulled him over without an explanation. The police searched his car, verbally abused him, and gave him a summons for making unreasonable noise in an automobile.
  • Daryl George, a 36-year-old transit worker who had never been arrested, was talking with a friend about buying an iPod in the lobby of a Brooklyn building when police came in, ordered everyone against the wall, and searched them. George didn’t have any contraband, though someone else in the lobby did. The police arrested George anyway, and though the charges were dismissed and the case was sealed, he was suspended by the Transit Authority and lost five months’ pay and benefits.
  • The police searched and arrested Kevin Adams for no apparent reason in February 2010 in the lobby of the Brooklyn building where he lives with his mother. Later that day—the arrest took place at 10 a.m.—they released him because the district attorney declined to prosecute, but not before he was roughed up and strip-searched in a police van.
  • Gregory Pope was walking in Coney Island in August 2011 when four plainclothes officers jumped and searched him. He told them they couldn’t just search him for no reason. After that, they arrested him and strip-searched him at the precinct. The police also took his car to the precinct, where they searched it and caused damage to the vehicle. Pope was held in the precinct for a day and then, inexplicably, released without charges.
  • Schedrick Campbell was walking home with a bag of dog food in March 2011 in Brooklyn when three plainclothes officers grabbed him, accused him of swallowing drugs, and tackled him. After a strip search in the precinct and a series of forced and invasive medical tests over two days at Interfaith Hospital, no contraband was found. The hospital billed Campbell $9,500 for the concocted arrest.
  • In April 2011, the police stopped Keenan Baskerville while he was walking down a Brooklyn street. They accused him of smoking marijuana, which he denied, and arrested him. He was strip-searched, but no contraband was found.
  • An African-American woman driving in Jamaica, Queens was pulled over because her car had a broken tail light. When she showed the officer a note explaining that she was on her way to have the light fixed, he said that then he would give her a summons for driving without a seatbelt. When she said, “but I have my seat belt on,” he responded, “stop complaining or I’ll make it worse for you”.
  • Darrell Vega, a 21 year-old Bronx resident, stated: “The cops do it to me all the time. They stop and frisk me. They tell me I look suspicious because I have my hands in my jacket”.
  • A NYPD transit officer arrested a CUNY college student after noticing that the clip to the youth’s pocket knife was visible on his pants pocket. The police detained the student for over 7 hours and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket charging him with “criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th degree.”
  • Jasheem Smiley, 19, lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with his uncle.  Two months ago, a van drove up on the sidewalk and a man jumped out.  “I’m a cop!” the man yelled.  “Get down on the sidewalk!”  Mr. Smiley complied but feared he was being robbed and asked to see a badge.  The officer responded by putting his shoe to his face and pressing it to the pavement.
  • An officer stopped a young man, arrested him, and charged him with armed robbery. Members of the man’s local church attested that he did not match the description given of the alleged robber. His family hired a private attorney, and charges were eventually dismissed. However, the legal expenses were approximately $8,000, and endangered the working class family’s finances to the extent that they were temporarily without utilities after falling behind in their bill payments.
  • Derrick Barnicoat was walking with a bike he had just bought for his girlfriend when two plain clothes officers stopped him, asking him if the bike was his. They squeezed his pockets, saying they were looking for drugs. When Barnicoat offered to pull out the contents of his pockets, they told him not to and asked where he lived. He told them. A cop then asked why he was not walking down a certain street to get home. He explained that he did not want to take the footbridge. An officer asked why, and he replied that he did not feel safe on the footbridge, that he could get his bike stolen. “I said look, I’m not a thief, I’m a dog walker,” he said. “People give me the keys to their house because they trust me to go into their house and not steal their stuff. I told him that straight up and they said, ‘I don’t believe a word you’re saying.’” One of the officers then said that if they received another stolen bike report, that they knew who he was and would come after him. About his experience, he said, “I felt endangered. I’ve been mugged before and it felt like that.”
  • Last April, Jamel Towe was walking out of his friend’s apartment building in the Bronx when police officers stopped, searched, and detained him. The officers gave no reason for their actions, verbally abused Jamel, and eventually issued him a summons.
  • Chanel Meausa was walking out of her mother’s apartment building in Brooklyn when she was stopped, handcuffed, and detained by several police officers. The police did not explain their actions. When they learned that she did not have any identification on her, they took her to the precinct. They held her for three hours and issued her a summons for trespassing which was eventually dismissed.
  • David Thompson was standing on a corner in the Bronx when the police searched and arrested him. He provided identification, but the officers still handcuffed him and held at the local precinct and issued him a summons for disorderly conduct.
  • Joseph Sarpong was standing on a corner in midtown when police officers stopped and handcuffed him. They took him to the precinct and held him in a cell without any explanation.
  • In 2009 Jeremy Thames was standing across the street from his apartment building in the Bronx when the police stopped, detained, handcuffed, and searched him without any explanation. Jeremy provided the police with his identification, but was then searched inside his underwear and taken to the precinct. The police issued Jeremy a summons for disorderly conduct which was later dismissed.
  • Sean Pettigrew was walking home from voting when the police stopped, searched, and detained him. He provided the officers with his identification, but they still issued two summonses, one for disorderly conduct and another for littering, which were later dismissed.
  • Leander Griffin was walking on Rosedale Avenue in the Bronx when the police approached him and pushed him against a wall. The police then issued Leander a summons for disorderly conduct which was dismissed months later in court.
  • While he was walking on Rosedale Avenue in the Bronx, the police stopped, detained, and issued a summons to Brian Morris without any explanation. The summons was eventually dismissed.
  • Mica Ancrum was standing outside of his apartment building in the Bronx after his nephew’s funeral when the police detained him without explanation. After he provided his identification, the officers verbally abused him and issued him a summons for disorderly conduct.
  • Over a four month span, the police stopped, detained, and issued summonses on four separate occasions to Victor Breland while he was walking down the street in the Bronx. All the summonses were dismissed.
  • While sitting in his car outside of his mother’s apartment, Ricardo Jones was approached by the police. The officers asked for his identification and Jones questioned their motives. The police responded by spraying him in the face with mace, ordering him out of his car, and handcuffing him. Jones’ mother ran out of her building to tell the police he had a right to be there. The officers released Jones after issuing him a summons for disorderly conduct which was dismissed.
  • Lindsey Riddick was standing outside his apartment building talking to his brother when officers stopped and searched him without explanation. He offered his identification, but the police told him to open his front door to prove he lived there. Riddick refused to enter the building saying he had a right to stand outside. The police told him: “You don’t own the street. You don’t own the sidewalk. You don’t own the building. You have no right to stand here.” The officers then issued him multiple summonses.
  • Tarif Warren and his wife Evelyn Warren were stopped at a red light intersection in Brooklyn, only a few blocks from where they live and practice law. They observed NYPD officers chasing a young man across the parking lot of a McDonald’s. The police caught the young man and started beating him, in full view of many people. Mr. Warren yelled at the police to stop beating the young man. The police came over to Warrens’ vehicle, reached in and started beating him. Warren was dragged out of his car and arrested. When Mrs. Warren objected, she too was arrested – and hit in the face.
  •  Brandon Gibson, 26, is a professional who works in a youth ministry with Hope Christian, a church in East New York, Brooklyn. One evening two years ago, he walked out his church with four friends and entered their car. Two undercover police cars cut them off. Officers jumped out, guns drawn. “They screamed to put our hands up,” Mr. Gibson recalls. “I asked, politely, for their name and badge numbers. They said, “Oh, you’re a wiseguy?” The officers searched the car without permission and without showing a warrant. And they departed without explanation, or apology. “This has become daily life,” Mr. Gibson says. “Policing used to be part of us. Now policing is something that happens to us.”