Imagine you are driving down the street, and you see the police brutalizing a person already in handcuffs. Do you stop and tell the cop to stop?

I wouldn’t. I’d talk smack to the other passengers in the car, and maybe even blog about it, but there’s no way I’d stop my car and confront the officer. Why? Because I wouldn’t want what Michael and Evelyn Warren claim happened to them to happen to me.

The Warrens are both lawyers, and they claim that after stopping to criticize a police office for hitting a man in handcuffs, the officer punched them. Both of them….

The New York Daily News reports that the City Law Department settled with the Warrens for $360,000. As we all know, settlements like this don’t really tell us a lot about the validity of the claim.

The Warrens claim that they witnessed Sergeant Steven Talvy kick a handcuffed man in the head. The Warrens got out of their car to tell him that what he was doing was illegal, but Sgt. Talvy allegedly punched them before arresting them for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Criminal charges against the officer were dropped:

“Without the witnesses, it would have been our words against the police version of the incident, which was totally wrong and false,” Evelyn Warren said outside Brooklyn Federal Court.

Their lawyer Jonathan Moore said the substantial payout confirms the officers engaged in wrongdoing and noted that [Sgt. Steven] Talvy and Officers Joseph Tillotson, Anthony Carozza and John Acconi have cost the city over a half a million dollars to settle multiple lawsuits.

The Law Department settled for $360,000 and said it was in the best interest of all parties, and since the incident, Talvy has been promoted to lieutenant.

But I want to get back to the part where the Warrens get out of their car:

The couple were stopped at a red light on Vanderbilt and Atlantic Aves. on June 21, 2007, when they observed cops tackle a man. The suspect was handcuffed when Sgt. Steven Talvy allegedly kicked the man in the head.

The Warrens got out of their vehicle and Michael Warren told the sergeant what he was doing was wrong and illegal.

On the one hand, you’d like to live in a society where people who know the law are willing to try to protect the rights of their fellow citizens, even without a retainer.

On the other hand, messing with the NYPD is like taking your life in your hands. If I got out of the car and all that happened to me was a punch, I’d consider myself lucky.

Realistically, I’d be much more likely to try to stop a criminal from committing a crime than try to stop a cop from committing a crime. The criminal might beat me up or even shoot me, but then he’s running away. The cop can do whatever he wants to me, and then say it was my fault.

Lawyer couple get $360,000 payout from city over false arrest by NYPD sergeant [New York Daily News]


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