Woman may sue New York police officer for false arrest, court rules

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2015 12:48 PM

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman may proceed with a lawsuit she filed against a New York City police officer, claiming he harassed and arrested her after she resisted his advances, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

The woman, Reisha Simpson, was arrested in June 2011 by an officer who maintained she tried to board a city bus without paying. Charges against her were later dropped, and she sued the officer, Kenson Nelson, in federal court claiming false arrest.

Simpson had been waiting to board a bus in the Bronx when the driver told passengers to use the back door due to a malfunction of a mechanical lift at the front door, according to her lawsuit.

As Simpson waited, the officer told her she was "very pretty" and asked her name, she said in court documents. When she gave her first name but declined to give her last name, he became aggressive, she said in court documents.

Once on board, Simpson lined up to pay with her Metrocard at the front of the bus when Nelson jabbed her in the side with his cap and told her not to pay, she said.

He ordered her off the bus and, as other passengers objected, said she was trying to embarrass him, according to the lawsuit. He handcuffed her, took her to a local precinct and charged her with theft of services, according to the lawsuit.

The charges against her were dismissed four months

later.

Simpson filed her lawsuit in U.S. District Court in 2012. The court granted the police officer's motions for summary judgment, which would have led to dismissal of the case, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled on Wednesday her claim of false arrest may proceed.

Her suit seeks unspecified damages.

The city's Law Department, which is representing the officer, issued a statement saying: "We are disappointed by the court's ruling."

The court documents noted that the officer has denied the charges.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Will Dunham and Sandra Maler)