NY City, In Court, Claims Businessman Can't Sue For "False Arrest" Because NYPD Cop's Retired

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Gounden says photograph shows him reporting 2012 incident to cops; he's provided a copy to Internal Affairs, he says.

Two years after a Queens businessman claimed he'd been falsely arrested by a New York Police Department officer a criminal court judge dismissed the case against him paving the way for his own civil court case against the City this year-- now the city's corporation counsel wants his case tossed because, among other reasons, it claims, the arresting officer has retired to the Dominican Republic.

"I've never heard of such a defense," says the businessman, Kris Gounden, of Howard Beach, who sued the city for false arrest in Federal Eastern District Court six months ago. "The city must be sending him his retirement check. I'm sure they would be able to get him in court if this goes to trial."

"This is a clear-cut case of false arrest," Gounden, who owns residential real property, adds. "That's why Magistrate Louis Bloom suggested that the City settle this case. I was maliciously prosecuted by the Queens district attorney and a judge dismissed that criminal case against me. Even the Comptroller's office called me to discuss settlement and asked how much I wanted. Why is the City wasting taxpayer's resources by prolonging this case from three years ago?"

The city's own criminal case against Gounden was dismissed in October, 2014 by Judge Michelle Armstrong in Criminal Court in Queens county when the city failed to file papers in response to Gounden's 30-30 motion seeking a speedy trial, he says.

This particular case started with a June 12, 2012 incident Gounden says, when he was allegedly assaulted by a neighbor named Scott Statland whom he'd had several run-ins with in the past.

When Gounden and his family who are ethnic Indians from Guyana first moved to Howard Beach in 2006, there was a racial backlash against them, including being verbally assaulted with the N-word and threatened with a baseball bat by another neighbor, he says.

The incidents were well covered by the major media including The New York Daily News, ABC, CBS, NBC, NY 1 News, FOX News, and Channel 9 and Channel 11.

During the 2012 encounter Gounden claims that he was driving home after picking up his five year old son from school when Statland emerged from the office of State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. and approached his car which had stopped at a stop sign. He claims Statland leaned inside and verbally abused him and his son, accusing the boy of stealing letters from his mailbox. Gounden claims Statland yelled at the boy, "Hello, five year old mail thief."

Gounden says when he objected to Statland who was standing by his car window and emerged from the car, Statland, whom he claims was intoxicated, started pushing him and slammed the car door on his chest.

Statland has previously not responded to an e-mail message inquiry to get his side of the story. Statland also did not respond to another e-mail message this afternoon seeking his version of the 2012 incident.

Gounden, who recorded the incident on his Smart phone, says he immediately called 911 and soon two officers from the 106 precinct came in a police van to his home where he explained what had occurred.

He says in the past officers who routinely come to his home, based on bogus complaints by Statland, had sided with the neighbor, so he decided to record the visit and photograph the van's registration. A photo provided by Gounden shows him speaking with two officers in a van; another picture shows a numerical marking, 8631, on the side of the police van from the 106 pct.

Gounden claims over the past decade officers from the 106 precinct, responding to "bogus complaints" phoned in by neighbors have visited his home more than 30 times. Gounden has recorded and posted some of the encounters from those visits on YouTube; during one such incident an officer named Peralta from the 106 precinct cursed him out, Gounden says.

Gounden says the officers who came to his home on June 12 never arrested Statland and instead, on June 18, a detective Raymond Brown called him and told him to report to the 106 precinct where he was arrested. Gounden says detective Brown told him there was no record of his 911 call or the complaint he had filed with the two officers who came to his home.

A screen shot on Gounden's phone shows that he made two 911 calls on June 12, 2012; at 2:37 PM and at 2:39 PM.

Statland had also allegedly filed his own complaint at the 106 precinct on June 12, 2012 at 3:30 PM claiming that it was Gounden who had assaulted him by punching him in the face, Gouden says and court records show. The police have not produced any documentation of the complaint and Statland never filed a medical report, Gounden says.

Gounden says even though he was the victim and had provided police with a copy of the video of the encounter and a notarized affidavit by a witness, Randy Volkens, who also confirmed his account, he was still locked up and Richard Brown the Queens County District Attorney filed charges against him.

Gounden was arrested again by detective Brown on July 17 after Statland filed a report claiming, Gounden who was across the fence in his own compound, had yelled at him saying, "This isn't over yet motherfucker." Gounden denies that such an encounter occurred on July 17.

The timing of the arrests was terrible because his wife Cheryl was pregnant at the time and had a miscarriage due to the stress, Gounden says.

The criminal case against Gounden dragged on for two years with the DA asking for numerous extensions, he says. Finally, Judge Michelle Armstrong of Queens Criminal Court dismissed the case in November of 2014. "The judge said 'enough is enough this has been going on for too long,'" Gounden says.

During the two years that the case lasted Gounden says he had refused several offers from the Queens County DA to accept an adjournment contemplating dismissal ( ACD). "Why would I do something like that, when I'm the victim and give up my right for legal recourse?" he says. 

Gounden then filed his lawsuit against the City and the arresting officer, Brown, of the 106 precinct in February 2015 seeking $5 million. "Listen, I was arrested twice, my wife had a miscarriage due to the stress, and I was dragged in court for over two years," he explains.

Gounden says he had originally also reported the June 12, 2012 incident to the Internal Affairs Bureau of the New York Police Department and had been in touch with a detective about the case.

After an e-mail message by The Black Star News to Internal Affairs Tuesday, two detectives went to see Gounden on Wednesday and he provided them with his documentation of the encounter with Statland, including his video recording, the record of the 911 call, and the photograph of the two officers who responded and of the van, he says.

The City in its motion to Judge Brian Cogan, filed August 12 by Daniel G. Saavedra, an assistant corporation counsel, claims that Gounden: didn't properly serve detective Brown; and also didn't properly say he had been denied equal protection under the 14th amendment when he filed his original complaint.

The city contends that even though Gounden served the summons on the 106 precinct, Brown had retired on February 1, 2015 "and subsequently moved to the Dominican Republic," Saavedra wrote, in his filing. 

The city also argues that Brown had probable cause to arrest Gounden because it was "undisputed" that Statland had on June 12, 2012 filed a criminal complaint against Gounden at about 3:30PM and that he had also "signed the supporting deposition of the criminal complaint."

"First of all, I would like to see a copy of that complaint made by Statland on that date -- I don't believe it exists," Gounden says.

"How can the city say one an alleged complaint was valid while my own complaint which was made about three hours earlier is not valid? If the DA could not risk presenting this argument to a judge in criminal court why is the City recycling the same argument in a civil case?"

"My video recording clearly shows me and my five year old boy were victims and Statland was the aggressor," Gounden adds.

Saavedra, in his filings on behalf of the City counters that "whether or not defendant Brown was aware that plaintiff was in possession of video of the incident is irrelevant because the defendant Brown did not have a duty to review the video."

Saavedra also cites a case, Jocks v Tavernier, which notes that police officers aren't obligated to "investigate exculpatory defenses offered by the person being arrested or to assess the credibility of the unverified claims of justification before making an arrest..."

"This is placing the cart ahead of the horse and Saavedra knows it," Gounden says. "The video was offered at the time I made my complaint to justify why Statland should be arrested and prosecuted. Remember officers from the precinct came to my home shortly after the incident."

Gounden claims even though detective Brown claims he never reviewed a copy of his video, even the one submitted by Statland who had also made his own recording shows Statland as the aggressor. Saavedra, in his filing for the city, contends Gouden's claim rests "on the implausible and conclusionary allegation that defendant Brown 'reviewed' videos on Mr. Statland's phone very 'carefully.'"

In any even, Saavedra contends in his court filing, detective Brown had "arguable probable cause" and was entitled to qualified immunity when he arrested Gounden on July 17. This was because by allegedly yelling at Statland, Gounden had violated an existing restraining order granted to Statland against Gounden after the June 12 incident.

"That was totally fabricated. I never said a word to Statland on that day because I never spoke to him," Gounden says. "The restraining order was granted to set me up for that second false arrest in order to cover up the fact that the police did not want to arrest Statland."

Saavedra, the assistant corporation counsel declined to respond to questions about the case, including Gounden's version of the June 2012 incident, which was sent to him via e-mail message. Instead, he referred The Black Star News to the corporation counsel's press office, which initially did not respond to an inquiry sent via e-mail message. After The Black Star News noted the non-responsiveness to Mayor de Blasio's press secretary, a spokesperson for the corporation counsel said in a message: ""In light of the pending litigation we are not commenting on the matter."

 

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