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Cops in botched effort to charge barber with criminal offense

The police in New York City are having a rocky season. More specifically, there seems to be some pent-up violent energy erupting, particularly in the borough of Staten Island. As the whole country now knows, a group of five or six officers were involved in a possible criminal offense after they accosted Eric Garner on a street corner this past summer and accused him of selling loose cigarettes.

Although Garner appears docile in a real-time video, the police wrestled the highly overweight and asthmatic man to the ground. He died of suffocation, as he pleaded, "I can't breathe." The officer who is seen most prominently applying a choke hold on the victim was not, however, indicted  by a Staten Island grand jury, thereby causing a widespread public outcry.  

The incident is of course eerily similar to what happened in Ferguson, Missouri. The Garner incident may be more egregious simply because there is a video to document events. However, that was not the end of the questionable events surrounding the police in Staten Island.

Just days ago, a small group of NYPD cops allegedly accosted the 25-year-old owner of a barber shop in Staten Island. Allegedly, they first tried to scam him into buying an iPhone that the undercover officer said was brand new. When the barber asked a question or expressed something about the phone, the police stormed the business and arrested him.

The man was upset because he says he did not offer to buy it. Also, he says that the phone was not described as stolen, which must be done in order to establish intent and knowledge by a defendant. The barber argued about it, whereupon he was allegedly swamped by a dozen officers, crushed to the ground and left badly bruised and with a bloody eye.

The New York police then arrested the man for the criminal offense of resisting arrest. They also charged him with criminal possession of stolen property and disorderly conduct. His brother was arrested on the same accusations, and his father -- a disabled and retired New York City worker -- was cited for disorderly conduct. The two brothers spent a night in jail but were released when the district attorney refused to prosecute what appears to have been a factually and legally weak case.

Source: New York Daily News, "Barber says NYPD cops beat him in controversial iPhone sting", Thomas Tracy, Nov. 28, 2014

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