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Two New York Occupy protestors have started a lawsuit against the NYPD. Heather Carpenter and her fiance Julio Jose Jimenez-Artunduaga claim that the police violated their civil rights when they unlawfully detained them and used excessive force during their arrest on October 15.
Carpenter and Jimenez-Artunduaga were demonstrating against Citibank. The protest moved indoors at a local branch in Greenwich Village.
Carpenter was a Citibank account holder, but had decided to close her account after she found out the bank would soon be charging her a $17 monthly fee unless she maintained an account balance of $6,000 or more. She claims she left the bank after she closed her account, and started filming police and protestors.
Carpenter then claims she was approached by a police officer, who arrested her because she was inside with the other protestors. She says that her fiance approached when she was speaking to officers. He was arrested after police kicked him in the back of the knee and forced him to the ground.
Carpenter says she showed the officers the receipt she had from closing her account before her arrest, Bloomberg reports.
In order to prevail in a claim of unlawful arrest, most likely Carpenter and Jimenez-Artunduaga will have to demonstrate that police had no probable cause that they had committed a crime. If police did have probable cause, then the arrest was lawful.
But, police are not able to arrest individuals with as much force as they want. The amount of force that officers are legally able to use must be reasonable.
If what Heather Carpenter and Julio Jose Jimenez-Artunduaga allege in the complaint is true, it's possible they could prevail on an excessive force claim. If they weren't resisting arrest, it likely wasn't reasonable for police to use force.