Man Arrested For Smoking Cigar Sues NYPD

In December of 2011, Yahnick Martin was smoking a cigar outside in Prospect Heights when he was approached by three NYPD officers who thought they smelled weed. After blowing enough smoke to prove that all he had was tobacco, Martin was asked to raise his hands, and Officer Roman Goris searched his pockets. When Gorick didn’t find anything incriminating, he walked away.

Martin, presumably upset after being forcibly searched without any reasonable suspicion of any crime (besides being black), cracked a joke as Gorick retreated: “Where’s the hundred dollars that was in my pocket?” The ensuing exchange, during which Martin asked Goris for his name and badge number, led to Martin’s arrest on bogus disorderly conduct charges. “You want to be a smart ass and make accusations, you go to jail,” said Gorick according to the lawsuit.

Perhaps worst of all, Martin’s van was running, unlocked, and full of Christmas presents at the time of the arrest. The cops wouldn’t secure the vehicle– “you should have thought of that before being a smart ass,” said one cop, according to the lawsuit–and it was eventually stolen.

Now, Martin has filed a civil suit against the department. It will be the first illegal stop-and-frisk case prosecuted by the Citizen Complaint Review Board, an NYPD oversight group that gained the authority to prosecute administrative NYPD cases this year.

(Photo: NYPD Drills/Wikimedia Commons)