Brooklyn resident Kate Wilson was riding the D train home to Sunset Park around 1 a.m. one morning in February when several police officers entered her subway car at 36th street. The subway car was mostly empty, with plenty of empty seats, and Wilson was resting her right leg—which she had injured in a race that day—on a corner of one seat. What followed was an absurd yet all too familiar encounter with overzealous, quota-filling transit cops. In her own words, Wilson describes her outraged exchange with New York's Finest:
I'd run a race that morning in Prospect Park and it had been a long day, had just seen a concert off Grand St. Not drunk. No one was sitting in the four seats next my two seater. I put my right leg up to rest a corner of it on the adjacent three-seater and played solitaire. I was traveling alone. My stop, at 45th Street, was next. But at 36th street the doors open:
Officer Taylor approaches the door and gets my attention.
Ma'am please step off the train (36th)
I'm sorry, why?
Please step off the train
I’m sorry what’s the problem I’m one stop from home.
You need to step off the train.
(Officers Munawar and Lancaster approach and also tell me I must get off the train.)
Sir, you need to tell me what the problem is.
No, you need to step off the train, holding up a train is a violation. This is not a criminal violation but it is a violation and you must get off. Don't worry this is a violation, not a criminal offense.
What is a violation?
You had your leg on the seat. You were obstructing a seat on the train. It is a violation.
The corner of my calf was touching the other seat. I injured my leg in a race this morning. There were numerous open seats on the train. It’s 1 AM, I’m one stop from home. If someone had asked for that seat or approached I would have moved my leg.
This is a violation, this is what they are telling us to look for.
Officer Lancaster asks me for my ID, my SSN, my phone number. I refuse the SSN and phone, but produce my ID with hesitancy because I know a ticket is being issued for no good reason.
This is what they're telling us to look for, Officer Taylor says.
Oh so you’re filling a quota, I say.
No we’re not filling a quota.
How many people have you stopped tonight?
We’ve written 5 tickets.
I can’t believe this is what my tax dollars are paying for. I have never seen anyone ticketed for this and yet I see people obstruct seats by sleeping and essentially living with belongings on the train, obese people requiring two seats, women with shopping bags, strollers...You are choosing to stop me for this?? I cannot believe this is what you're being paid to do; did you catch the rapist in my neighborhood?
Ma'am I don’t think you understand that not complying right now is an arrestable offense.
I do understand, but it’s my right for you to tell me what the problem is when you stop me. And you could have easily asked me to take my leg off one of the dozens of empty seats and I would have complied.
If we told you not to run a red light after doing it that wouldn’t work either.
I was doing no harm to anyone, and you did not tell me what the problem was and harrassed me to get off the train when I was minding my own business.
We never conduct business on the train. If you had shot someone it would be the same.
You’re equating pulling me off the train now to someone shooting someone?
I’m sure you have bigger fish to fry.
But, Officer Munamar says, we’re frying this one right now. (And smiles.)
Let me get your names.
Our names are clearly visible, Officer Munamar says.
I write down all three names, two male, one female. The latter, Lancaster says I can get her number off the ticket she's just issued me, with a smirk.
Okay, so she's no John Kuhner, but we love how Wilson wrote about her experience—which resulted in a $50 summons—in the form of a short play. Is there a local community theater group with the balls to stage it? The Stupid Law Enforcement Players present the world premiere of My Right Leg, or The Fifty Dollar Footrest, by Kate Wilson. Broadway, here we come!
Wilson tells us that after receiving her $50 ticket, she walked from that station to her home, instead of waiting at 1 a.m. for another train to take her one stop. "They haven't caught the rapist terrorizing women in Park Slope and Sunset Park over the last year and there were three wanted posters as I left the subway station with my ticket," Wilson notes. "Thanks, NYPD. I walked home alone without seeing a single cop presence on the street. Even if I did have an issue with someone on my walk home, there's no way I'd feel safe calling the NYPD after this insane incident."