NYPD TO ARGUE FOR DISMISSAL OF CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT CHALLENGING ITS USE OF LONG RANGE ACOUSTIC DEVICE (“LRAD”) SOUND WEAPONS
AGAINST BLACK LIVES MATTER, OTHER PROTESTERS
WHAT: Oral arguments in Federal Court before Hon. Robert W. Sweet in lawsuit over NYPD uses of LRAD sound cannons against protesters
WHEN: 1/26/17 at 12:00pm
WHERE: US District Court – 500 Pearl Street, NY, NY – Courtroom – 18C
On December 5, 2014, the six Plaintiffs in Edrei, et al. v. City of New York, et al. were participating in or observing and documenting Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality in the wake of a December 2014 Staten Island Grand Jury’s decision not to indict New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officer Daniel Panteleo in the death of Eric Garner, and police response to those protests, when NYPD officers injured Plaintiffs byfiring the so-called “deterrent” pain compliance/area denial tone of a military-grade LRAD sound weapon at them repeatedly, from an unsafe distance, at an unsafe volume.
When lawyers for the Plaintiffs associated with the National Lawyers Guild – NYC Chapter demanded that the NYPD refrain from using the LRAD for crowd control purposes without first conducting thorough, independent testing, and developing appropriate written and public guidelines for LRAD-related training, use, reporting, and oversight requirements, the NYPD said that the LRAD had been used appropriately, and refused to take any of the steps demanded.
In March of 2016, the Edrei Plaintiffs filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in US District Court for the Southern District of NY, challenging the NYPD’s LRAD use policies and practices as violating the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the NY State Constitution, and on other grounds, and seeking to enjoin the NYPDfrom using LRADs for crowd control purposes unless the NYPD designs and implements appropriate LRAD-related policy changes, as well as damages and attorney’s fees.
In moving to dismiss the case, the City of New York and NYPD have argued, among other things, that LRAD uses are not uses of force that can cause injury within the scope of Fourth Amendment protections because sound is “not a substance but a physical phenomenon, such as light or gravity”; that LRAD uses cannot constitute seizures within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment because they do not render a person unable to leave the area; and because the LRAD uses at issue were, according to Defendants, objectively reasonable.
In December, Plaintiffs filed the attached and other opposition papers, arguing, among other things, that sound is a physical phenomenon and that the LRAD exerts force (for example, on eardrums) by emitting soundwaves, causing molecules to vibrate, and as suchLRAD uses are uses of force that can cause injury (and did injure Plaintiffs); that LRAD uses for area denial/pain compliance purposes are seizures within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, which restrict peoples’ freedom to remain in a particular area and force them to flee or otherwise relocate on threat of pain and/or injury; that the LRAD uses against Plaintiffs violated their First Amendment-protected rights to assemble and to gather and disseminate information (among other rights); and that the City and NYPD’s policies and practices regarding LRAD uses led to Plaintiffs’ injuries and were likely to cause Plaintiffs and others similarly situated injuries in the future unless the City and NYPD conduct appropriate LRAD-related testing and develop appropriate LRAD-related training, use, reporting and oversight requirements.
Tomorrow, 1/26/17, at 12:00pm, in Courtroom 18C at the US District Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street in NY, NY, Hon. Robert W. Sweet will hear oral argument on the City’s and NYPD’s motion to dismiss the case.
Members of the public and the press are invited and encouraged to attend.
Other relevant papers filed in the case can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/s68dvtkbz15iqc8/AAB1ieOXRo-PpwSOfkud9yXka?dl=0 (Link to expire 2/1/17).