City on Trial

The NYPD is snared in its own surveillance net

Kuby's civil suit on behalf of the bikers charges, among other things, that they were falsely arrested and were the victims of an illegal search and seizure by the NYPD, who apparently combed their upstairs apartments in defiance of the warrant. The videotape certainly makes this a strong case.

Kuby is also representing the two Angels who were accused of stealing the bike in a criminal trial; here the case is far murkier. The biker from Jersey claims he had a beer with one of the Angels, then went to the clubhouse, where three Angels beat him up and stole his bike. And indeed, his helmet was found in the Angels' clubhouse along with a pair of unregistered guns.

The criminal case is on hold while attorneys wait for the police to produce the bootleg tape of the upstairs. But given the cops' own damning words, recently introduced in court, it's unlikely it'll ever come to trial. The civil suit, however, is just getting started.

Thanks to the tape, New Yorkers are privy to the consequences of police misconduct. One, arguably meritorious cases get dismissed. Two, jaded citizens have their worst fears confirmed. "What is caught on this tape is the real world of police work, which bends all the rules," says Michael Spiegel, an attorney who has pursued a number of police brutality and police misconduct suits against the city. "From the very casual way this conversation takes place, you can imagine that it's a common occurrence. That is a very troubling thought."

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