A Black Lives Matter activist was acquitted Monday by a judge who ripped police witnesses for recalling events that were disproved by video.
The images of protester Cristina Winsor at a July 2016 rally were “totally different from what your officers, who on first blush came across quite credibly, what they told me happened,” Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Stephen Antignani told NYPD lawyer Neil Fenton.
The judge said the officers misrepresented facts that were clear on video from the scene – including that scaffolding was blocking the sidewalk at the point where Winsor was accused of being on the street.
They said there was no such structure when there clearly was, the judge said, and Winsor’s lawyer argued it obstructed pedestrian traffic.
Officers also testified that there were no supervising cops in “white shirts” when the video showed several white-shirted officers – including one making an arrest.
The judge found Winsor not guilty of disorderly conduct and walking in a roadway, discarding a case argued by the NYPD Legal Bureau.
Winsor is one of two activists challenging the department for playing prosecutor in protest cases with the blessing of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in an attempt to insulate itself from lawsuit liability.
Winsor’s lawyer, Gideon Oliver, said the way the NYPD Legal Bureau handled its cop witnesses at trial is an example of the obvious conflict of interest.
“A prosecutor should be thinking about investigating those officers who didn’t tell the truth on the witness stand in front of the judge,” he said.
The judge found Cristina Winsor (left) not guilty of disorderly conduct and walking in a roadway, discarding a case argued by the NYPD Legal Bureau.
(Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)
“What are the consequences going to be for those officers?”
In February 2016, the DA’s office issued a “memorandum of understanding” delegating authority to the NYPD to handle the prosecution of summons matters.
But lawyers for Winsor and Jeffryes say it opened the gates for selective prosecution and unfair handling of cases for a select group of defendants.
Protesters who get picked up by the Legal Bureau are asked to admit that there was probable cause for the arrest in order to get what used to be a standard dismissal deal.
The DA’s office does not require that in comparable cases.
Winsor’s lawyers questioned whether police testimony in the case would be reviewed. Under the MOU, the DA is supposed to be kept up to speed on the experimental arrangement.
“Is the DA’s office even going to find out about it?” said Elena Cohen, one of Winsor’s attorneys.
Last month, a civil court judge ruled that the lawsuit brought by Winsor and Jeffryes against the NYPD and DA’s office over the MOU can proceed.
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