Ah, it's a classic scenario: Citizen videotapes cop, cop gets mad and arrests citizen. But in this case, videographer Robert Carnevale's 22 hour tour through the Tombs earned him $20,001 in taxpayer money after a settlement with NYC. It all happened one night in May 2007, when officers from the 9th precinct confiscated a number of bikes locked to parking meters and signposts on 6th Street near First Avenue. As you may recall, the NYPD maintained that the bikes were abandoned, and they allowed some people to take the loose bikes without showing any proof of ownership.
According to Time's Up, police seized about 15 bikes, even ones locked to D.O.T. bike racks. Carnevale arrived in time to recover his bike, and he started videotaping the scene, asking officers for their badge numbers. Some cops don't like that (a few even went so far as to conceal their badges on another controversial night in East Village history). Plainclothes officer Lt. Robert Corcoran took a special interest in Carnevale, and anyone who's ever had a run-in with a bullying, power-drunk cop will recognize the scene that unfolds at the 1:10 minute mark:
Carnevale got sent through "the system," emerging 22 hours later, which is standard. A bystander, Carole Dale, 59, was also after she started questioning Carnevale's arrest. Both were charged with disorderly conduct for refusing a lawful order to disperse and blocking the sidewalk, and accepted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD). Then they sued the city.
According to the suit, "Neither plaintiff interfered in any way with the police operation under Defendant Lieutenant Corcoran’s supervision; both simply observed and questioned the officers." "These were First Amendment retaliatory arrests," their lawyer told City Room after the settlement was announced Wednesday. "They had every right to object."
NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne, reached for comment in Upside Down Land, counters, "It was not retaliation. Period." After legal fees and expenses, the total payout from taxpayers was expected to be about $72,000, all because Officer Dim didn't like anybody questioning his authority.