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Damages sought for false arrest. Macareno v. City of New York, 187 A.D.3d 1164 (N.Y. App. Div. 2020)


The case of Albaum v. City of New York revolves around allegations of false arrest, false imprisonment, and the use of excessive force by the New York Police Department (NYPD). The plaintiff, Judith Albaum, was arrested in Queens County in 2014 and charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The criminal charges were later dismissed, leading Albaum to file a lawsuit against the City of New York and Officer Jose Rendon, among others, seeking damages for the alleged misconduct.

Probable cause and excessive force are two critical concepts in law enforcement that are closely related, particularly in cases involving arrests and the use of force by police officers. Probable cause refers to the standard by which police officers must have a reasonable belief that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed before making an arrest, conducting a search, or seizing property. It is a fundamental principle designed to protect individuals from arbitrary arrests and intrusions by law enforcement.

Excessive force, on the other hand, occurs when law enforcement officers use more force than is reasonably necessary to apprehend a suspect or control a situation. This can include physical force, such as hitting, punching, or using a weapon, as well as non-physical force, such as threats or intimidation. If an officer lacks probable cause to make an arrest, any force used to carry out that arrest may be considered excessive and in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable seizures.

Background Facts
Albaum was at a beer garden with her family when a confrontation broke out between other patrons. She left the premises, but witnessed a street altercation involving other patrons from the beer garden. Albaum informed Officer Rendon about the situation, prompting Officer Rendon to allegedly use profanity and threaten her. Albaum began recording the incident on her cell phone, which she claims led to her arrest. As in most civil lawsuit where there is a claim of excessive force, the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s stories differ on critical points. Officer Rendon stated that Albaum was part of a group instigating a fight and refused to leave when asked, leading to her arrest for disorderly conduct.

The main issue in this case is whether Officer Rendon had probable cause to arrest Albaum for disorderly conduct and whether the force used during the arrest was excessive.


The court reversed the lower court’s decision and denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. This means that the case will proceed to trial, allowing a jury to determine whether the arrest was lawful and whether excessive force was used.

The court found that there were triable issues of fact regarding the arrest and the use of force. While the defendants submitted video footage of the arrest, the footage did not capture the entire incident, leaving room for doubt about the reasonableness of the force used. Additionally, conflicting testimonies between Albaum and Officer Rendon created further uncertainty about the events leading to the arrest.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of police misconduct, including false arrest or the use of excessive force, it is crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced New York police brutality lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and seek justice for any wrongdoing.

In the case discussed, the next step would likely involve preparing for trial. The court’s reversal of the summary judgment means that the case will proceed to trial where the trier of fact, typically a jury, will determine the facts and decide whether the plaintiff’s claims are valid. During the trial, both parties will present evidence, including testimony from witnesses and experts, to support their arguments.

If the trier of fact ultimately finds in favor of the plaintiff, they may be awarded damages. These damages can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses caused by the police misconduct. Additionally, a finding in favor of the plaintiff can also lead to changes in police practices and policies to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

Contact our Stephen Bilkis & Associates today for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn how we can help you seek justice for police misconduct.

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