Ruhim Ullah pleaded guilty after being arrested in 2010 for menacing police officers with a machete, but despite his admission of guilt, he still received a $5,000 settlement from the city for a subsequent lawsuit.
Ullah, 24, was shot in the leg by NYPD because according to witnesses and police at the scene, he was waving a machete and possibly about to attack officers. After pleading guilty, he still filed a $3 million suit that accused the officers of wrongdoing.
The machete man’s lawyer, Scott Cerbin, even admitted, “This may have been a justified shooting,” according to the New York Post. But that was after all was said and done, in his defense Cerbin argued that Ullah dropped the machete before police started shooting.
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association spokesman Al O’Leary made a statement saying, “This is one of the many frivolous lawsuits that the city prefers to settle because it’s cheaper than defending it in court.”
O’Leary’s statement is likely true, according to the American Bar Association, “The average 2012 hourly billing rate was about $536 for law firm partners.” At that rate, the city would have paid $5,000 in legal fees for just under 19 hours of work. That doesn’t include the myriad of clerical costs associated with court proceedings.
Update: Media watchdog Fair.org has called the New York Post’s story “misleading” and “factually incorrect.” Writer Adam Johnson interviewed Cerbin, who said the Post fabricated his comments:
I reached out to Cerbin, a Brooklyn lawyer who was more than happy to correct the record: “I’m glad you called…. I don’t know where Selim [Algar] got the idea that I thought the shooting was justified. I never said that to him.”
I asked, “So, did he just made it up?”
“Yes, he just made it up.”
Johnson cites other inaccuracies:
Whether or not Rahim Ullah was “attacking” the police officers in question is uncertain, but what appears to be certain is that the Post has put words in Ullah’s lawyer’s mouth to bolster its narrative. Cerbin insists he never depicted the incident this way, and has no idea where the Post’s Algar is getting these quotes from.
Another important fact that’s overlooked, Cerbin said, is that a defendant pleading guilty to a crime–in this case “menacing a police officer”–is entirely separate from whether the police used excessive force in their apprehension.
Read the full post here.
(Photo: Steel Machete Wholesale)