Yadram Singh, 18, was en route to the Rockaways with his family on an early evening in June when he was forced into an unexpected detour to central booking, where he languished until the following day. His offense: using a small portable speaker attached to his phone to play R&B music on the outdoor platform at Broad Channel. According to the judge's decision, an NYPD officer arrested him without even asking him to turn the music off first.
"I asked him why I was being arrested," Singh tells the Daily News. "He gave me no response." Singh was charged with disorderly conduct and spent the night in jail until he was released without bail the following day.
A judge dismissed the charge, pointing out that "while the complaint states that people were leaving the area to avoid [Singh], there is no allegation they were inconvenienced, annoyed, or or alarmed, or at risk thereof. [Singh] was not told to cease his behavior nor was he inciting the crowd. It is well settled that a defendant cannot be guilty of disorderly conduct if he did not annoy anyone, disturb anyone, or interfere with anyone."
Now, of course, Singh intends to sue the city. Joel Schmidt, the Legal Aid attorney who represented him for the disorderly conduct charge, issued this fiery statement in solidarity:
The injustice here is that the NYPD permits its officers to make these outrageous arrests. A Criminal Court judge has dismissed all charges against Mr. Singh as unsupported by the allegations, but even if we pretend that Mr. Singh broke the law the officer's actions were still wildly inappropriate. Rather than being kindly asked to lower the music, rather than being given a non-criminal summons, rather than being given a desk appearance ticket to voluntarily appear on the charges in Criminal Court, Mr. Singh was snatched off the subway and forced to spend a night in jail.
It is no wonder so many New Yorkers have lost faith in our Police Department. He was on the way to the beach, but he ended up at central booking. An experience like this can scar a young man for life. This is not broken windows, it is broken lives. We are not safe in our city if anyone can be tossed in jail at the whim of a police officer. If it can happen to him it can happen to anyone.
An NYPD spokesman told the News that Singh was charged with disorderly conduct "based on the observation of the arresting officer."