The night of October 31, Coney Island barber Donald Franks was returning home from Home Depot, where he had gone to charge his and his family’s cell phones in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. When he walked by a nearby Key Food, he saw several teenagers running away with cops not far behind–and soon enough, he was arrested himself.
Franks spent nine days in Rikers Island on $100,000 bail for the alleged looting before having charges dropped by a grand jury. Now, he’s suing the city to clear his name. “It was very stressful,” said Franks, who claims he was openly mocked by police while in custody. “The whole thing has been embarrassing. I want people to know that I’m not running into stores stealing things.”
Baree Fett, Franks’s attorney, is representing two other people who were arrested on looting charges only to have them dropped by a grand jury. “Mr. Franks was at his most vulnerable in the days after Sandy struck, but instead of coming to his aid, these officers threw him in jail on serious charges based on nothing but lies,” Fett said. “When he was finally released from Rikers Island, Mr. Franks wasn’t even given an explanation for what had been done to him.”