A New School student reached a $82,500 settlement with the police on December 4 after a year and a half-long lawsuit. Shawn Carrié, who is also an editor at the Free Press, filed a suit against the NYPD in May 2012 to receive compensation for brutality he claimed to have suffered during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
“My ear was bleeding and I had a bootprint on my face,” Carrié told the Free Press of a particularly violent incident in March 2012. “A police officer had also broken my left thumb.”
According to Carrié, officers stomped him and strangled him with his scarf during the chaotic arrest, causing him to briefly lose consciousness.
Carrié, a 24-year-old Queens native and politics major at The New School, said he had been targeted by the police numerous times for minor offenses during the Occupy protests.
The lawsuit listed three incidents between Carrié and the NYPD, and eight different allegations. The one which finally made him decide to press charges was on May Day 2012, when the NYPD Intelligence Division (ID) approached him in downtown Manhattan while he was observing the protests from afar.
“I had an encrypted cell phone and a 2-way radio on me that the Intelligence Division wanted to get their hands on, [so] they used a fake warrant as a pretense to bring me in.” Carrié said that he was interrogated for 13 hours after being brought into custody.
He decided to take action and hired civil rights attorney Jeffrey Rothman. The NYPD made it clear from the beginning that they would fight each and every claim for as long as needed, Carrié said.
One of the claims in the lawsuit described the violent arrest in March 2012. Carrié told the Free Press that a police officer snapped his thumb out of place twice at the six-month Occupy anniversary. Once his fractured thumb had been immobilized and Carrié was in custody, the officer, Carrié alleged, ripped the splint off to make a point after another arrestee offered him a snack after hearing that he had not eaten all day.
At the time, Carrié had a full scholarship at NYU to study classical piano, but says that his hand will never fully function again, and has had to abandon his piano studies. “I will never play Beethoven again,” Carrié said.
While many Occupy lawsuits have been settled for smaller sums and others are expected to go on for years, Carrié decided to accept the city’s settlement offer of $82,500.
Still, Carrié says, he has a long way to go. “I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, [which are triggered] around the police,” he told the Free Press. “[The NYPD] are completely out of touch with the people who they’re supposed to serve.”
He expressed discontent at the fact that the settlement money will come out of taxpayers’ pockets. “The [officers] will be put on paid leaves, if that,” he said. “The NYPD has no mechanism of accountability. Even if I won the lawsuit, the officers would only be disciplined if their Internal Affairs chose to do an investigation.”
Carrié describes the outcome of the situation as bittersweet. “I’m glad that it’s over,” he said. “The money will help me continue my education, but many people have told me that I’m a completely different person now. I never used to have anxiety.”