“Broken Windows” Could Have Meant a Broken Life for a Legal Aid Client
MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2015

Queens Staff Attorney Joel Schmidt represented a teen who was arrested and spent the night in jail for playing music on his phone, but was not asked by police to turn off the music before he was arrested.

Criminal Court Judge David Hawkins dismissed the case, noting the officer never warned the teen to turn down the music. “While the complaint states that people were leaving the area to avoid defendant, there is no allegation they were inconvenienced, annoyed or alarmed, or at risk," Judge David Hawkins ruled.

An experience like this can scar a young man for life," Schmidt told the New York Daily News. "This is not broken windows, it is broken lives."




New York Daily News
EXCLUSIVE: Queens teen busted for playing music on subway platform plans to sue NYPD after judge tosses case
By Reuven Blau
August 31, 2015

A Queens teen arrested for playing music from his phone on a subway platform plans to sue the NYPD after a judge tossed the criminal case days later.

Yadram Singh, 18, was going to Rockaway Beach with his friends and family when he was approached by a police officer on June 13 at 6:05 p.m. The officer asked him to turn off the small speaker attached to his phone playing R&B music at the Broad Channel train station, according to Singh.

The officer then brought Singh to a police station nearby and put him inside a holding pen.

"I asked him why I was being arrested," Singh recalled, noting the cop never asked him to turn down the music. "He gave me no response."

Singh spent the night in a central booking cell before he was released without bail.

"It was literally one of the worst days of my life," he recalled.

A judge later tossed the disorderly conduct case, ruling the NYPD had no reason for the arrest.

"While the complaint states that people were leaving the area to avoid defendant, there is no allegation they were inconvenienced, annoyed or alarmed, or at risk," Judge David Hawkins ruled, noting the officer never warned Singh to turn down the music.

Singh's lawyer hailed the decision.

"An experience like this can scar a young man for life," said Legal Aid attorney Joel Schmidt. "This is not broken windows, it is broken lives."

An NYPD spokesman said Singh was charged with disorderly conduct "based on the observation of the arresting officer."

"The judge has the authority to review the charges and decide on the disposition of the court in any particular case," the spokesman added.

A department source said that Singh wasn't given a summons or desk appearance ticket because he's a "transit recidivist."

Singh's lawyer called that accusation "ludicrous," noting his client has no criminal history and once received a bogus summons for using a school Metro Card during Regents week.

"A recidivist is a convicted criminal who repeatedly offends," Schmidt said. "That's not Yadram."




Gothamist
Teen Will Sue City After Spending Night In Jail For Using Portable Speaker On Subway Platform
By John Del Signore
August 31, 2015

Yadram Singh, 18, was en route to the Rockaways with his family on an early evening in June when he was forced into an unexpected detour to central booking, where he languished until the following day. His offense: using a small portable speaker attached to his phone to play R&B music on the outdoor platform at Broad Channel. According to the judge's decision, an NYPD officer arrested him without even asking him to turn the music off first.

"I asked him why I was being arrested," Singh tells the Daily News. "He gave me no response." Singh was charged with disorderly conduct and spent the night in jail until he was released without bail the following day.

A judge dismissed the charge, pointing out that "while the complaint states that people were leaving the area to avoid [Singh], there is no allegation they were inconvenienced, annoyed, or or alarmed, or at risk thereof. [Singh] was not told to cease his behavior nor was he inciting the crowd. It is well settled that a defendant cannot be guilty of disorderly conduct if he did not annoy anyone, disturb anyone, or interfere with anyone."

Now, of course, Singh intends to sue the city. Joel Schmidt, the Legal Aid attorney who represented him for the disorderly conduct charge, issued this fiery statement in solidarity:

The injustice here is that the NYPD permits its officers to make these outrageous arrests. A Criminal Court judge has dismissed all charges against Mr. Singh as unsupported by the allegations, but even if we pretend that Mr. Singh broke the law the officer's actions were still wildly inappropriate. Rather than being kindly asked to lower the music, rather than being given a non-criminal summons, rather than being given a desk appearance ticket to voluntarily appear on the charges in Criminal Court, Mr. Singh was snatched off the subway and forced to spend a night in jail.

It is no wonder so many New Yorkers have lost faith in our Police Department. He was on the way to the beach, but he ended up at central booking. An experience like this can scar a young man for life. This is not broken windows, it is broken lives. We are not safe in our city if anyone can be tossed in jail at the whim of a police officer. If it can happen to him it can happen to anyone.

An NYPD spokesman told the News that Singh was charged with disorderly conduct "based on the observation of the arresting officer."