BED-STUY, BROOKLYN – A Bed Stuy man who says years of police harassment made him afraid to leave his home is suing the NYPD and the cops who targeted him, according to a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed by Mike Josie earlier this month, names more than a dozen NYPD officials who have paused, searched, paused, arrested, and arrested Josie and friends in the 79th Ward of Bed-Stuy since early 2019.
Josie is the second in the group of friends the department is suing.
“Every time the police see you, they harass you, try to stop you and search you,” his lawyer Ugochukwu Uzoh told Patch. “It has to stop.”
In the most recent lawsuit, Josie was arrested three times by police only to be released or to drop charges for lack of evidence, the lawsuit said. Uzoh said all three arrests were due to police believing Josie stole electric bikes or scooters.
In two incidents – in the summer of 2019 and in December 2020 – police officers broke into Josie’s house while he was sleeping, handcuffed him and, according to a complaint, took him to the train station while they were pointing guns at him.
He was charged with both robbery and theft, which were dropped months later due to “lack of evidence,” the lawsuit said.
Police ambushed Josie at 1 a.m. on a street corner during a third arrest in August 2019, the lawsuit said. They handcuffed him and, according to the complaint, pushed him to the ground “with his feet on his back.”
Again, the police beat him on charges of theft, only to have the prosecutor deny the charge for lack of evidence, Josie had committed a crime, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges the three arrests are the most egregious incidents in a larger pattern of police harassment. Any time the police see Josie or his friends and family, they will stop and search her, call her, stop her or threaten her depending on the lawsuit.
When asked if they could determine a motivation for the harassment, Uzoh said that Josie and friends believe it was racially motivated.
“They keep saying it’s because they’re black,” said Uzoh. “I don’t know of any other reason.”
The harassment has gotten so bad that, according to Uzoh, Josie hardly leaves his house out of fear for his life.
His friend Eddie Hoover, who filed his lawsuit in May, was in Staten Island to escape local police officers, he added. Hoover’s lawsuit also lists three arrests where prosecutors either declined to pursue the charges or dismissed the case.
“It makes it very difficult for them to have a job – no matter to pursue their lives,” said Uzoh. “They are afraid of stepping out of their house or on the street – they are afraid of being shot.”
When asked to respond to the claims in the lawsuit, the NYPD declined to comment and cited pending litigation.