NYPD a Law unto Themselves Forces Photographer Shaun Thomas into a Psych Ward Again*
By Carlos Miller
For the maybe the 12th time in recent years, he has long lost count, Shawn Randall Thomas ended up in jail again for questioning the authority of New York’s finest.
This time, he was thrown in jail for three days and dragged on a jailhouse floor while handcuffed and leg-shackled, then placed in a psych ward after he was accused by two NYPD cops of entering a subway station in Brooklyn without paying the fare.
He did pay the fare. Even had the receipt to prove it. But he has long stop trying to prove his innocence to the New York City Police Department.
“It’s pointless to do that,” he said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
“To do that is to assume they give a shit whether you did the crime or not. And even if I showed them the receipt, they could still arrest me and destroy the receipt.”
And he does have a point. Look how many times cops have stolen or destroyed cameras that would have proven a person’s innocence. Look how many times they have lied on police reports to justify their arrests.
In fact, earlier today, Gothamist reported that NYPD officers destroyed birth certificates, identifications and medical prescriptions during an early morning raid on a homeless encampment.
And last month, a group of NYPD cops sued the police department, claiming they were required to maintain an “illegal quota system” by making unlawful arrests on minorities
Thomas, who has been written about on PINAC numerous times, is black, but tends not to claim racial discrimination when arrested because many times, the arrests come from black or Hispanic officers (who incidentally, are the ones suing the NYPD).
But he did note that the only reason he was harassed last Friday was because he opened a service entry gate at the Nevins Street subway station to allow a white man with a bicycle to enter.
The service entry gates are next to the turnstiles and are used as entrance gates by people with luggage, wheelchairs or bicycles to enter after paying because they are much wider than the turnstiles.
But to open the gate, you need to hold the lever from the inside a certain way rather than just push it open, he said. Many people have difficulty opening the gate, so he was just being courteous to the man with the bike, who was not stopped by the cops.
Meanwhile, the two cops were downstairs in full uniform, which Thomas said, means that they had to hide behind a wall in order to spot potential fare evaders without exposing themselves.
Most of the time, the NYPD uses plainclothes cops to monitor the turnstiles to ensure people are paying, which they have used in the past to harass him.
But he believes because these cops were in uniform, they purposely were standing downstairs, obstructed from view, and never had a full view of him, so they never saw him pay the fare, only saw him opening the gate for the man with the bike.
And because of that, they only assumed he did not pay.
“Did you pay to enter the subway system?” asked the cop.
“You do know I’m under no lawful obligation to answer any of your questions or to provide you with anything, do you understand that?,” he responded.
“You are wrong,” she said.
“Cite the law then,” he said.
“I stopped you because you walked into the subway without paying,” she insisted.
“That’s what you’re assuming,” he said.
He then asked for her name and badge number, which she gave him. Then she asked for his identification, which he refused to provide.
And then he asked if he was being detained or if he was free to go and was told no, he was not being detained, but no, he was not free to go, which means, yes, he was being detained.
Eventually, two plainclothes male cops arrive, including one who battered him by pushing him against a bench, then swiping his camera.
“When they tell you to fucking do something, you do it,” the new cop said while attacking him.
By the end of the night, he was sitting in a Brooklyn jail cell where he refused to allow himself to be photographed or his fingerprints taken.
He was wearing a Copwatch shirt, which seemed to irritate them even more, so they kept them in a cell for 15 hours without water, despite repeated requests for water. The plumbing in the cell was not working either.
As a way to further punish him for his contempt-of-cop attitude, one cop decided he needed to be transported to a psychiatric hospital for a mental evaluation, which, he says, is standard NYPD protocol when they want to further detain somebody.
They did that to a black woman last year because they did not believe she owned the BMW she was driving, keeping her in the hospital for eight days where she was injected with sedatives against her will. Earlier this year, Kamilah Brock filed a lawsuit.
And last month, an NYPD cop named Adrian Schoolcraft settled a lawsuit for $600,000 after he was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward against his will when he began blowing the whistle against corrupt cops.
So they handcuffed and leg-shackled him, ordering him to walk with them to go to the hospital, but he asked them to remove the leg-shackles because they were cutting into his ankles.
That prompted one cop to grab him by his shoulders and start dragging him to the ambulance, his head bouncing against metal garbage cans and brick walls.
“He dragged me about 150 feet,” Thomas said.
“The paramedics were standing there watching it all. They told the hospital staff what happened.”
As a result, the medical staff at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center were more concerned about his physical injuries instead of any possible mental issues.
“The attending doctor dismissed the psychiatric issue outright upon learning of what happened to me,” he said.
“He didn’t even have anyone speak to me to determine my mental state, which was the original reason they took me to the hospital.”
Five hours later, he was released with a prescription of codeine and a recommendation he return to the hospital if he continued to experience headaches, transported back to jail for another night in a cell.
He was released Sunday after facing a judge who offered him adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, which means his charge would be dismissed if he can spend six months without getting arrested.
So now he is set to go to trial for the charges of trespassing and theft of services, even though the NYPD has no proof that he did enter the subway without paying.
The proof, in fact, was in his wallet all along, which they had, but they were only concerned about his identification.
“Normally they take the metrocard which they can scan to see every ride, time, and location,” he said.
“They simply didn’t care if the fare was paid or not. They make an arrest and fuck the rest.”
The video and the arrest report are below. Be sure to read the last line in the arrest report about false statements being punishable by a misdemeanour.