A man’s claim that he was arrested without cause and roughed up by court officers for refusing to end a cell phone call as he waited to get through security at a Brooklyn court house should go forward, a federal judge has determined.
Triable issues of facts exist about Getro Milfort’s claims of false arrest, false imprisonment and excessive force in a June 18, 2010, incident at the Civil Court building at 141 Livingston St., Eastern District William Kuntz II concluded in Milfort v. Prevete, 10-cv-4467.
Milfort said he stepped out of the line gathered at a security checkpoint when asked to get off his cell phone by Lt. Felix Prevete. He contended that as he continued the call in a small alcove nearby, Prevete seized his phone, pushed him so his head struck the wall and he suffered head, neck and shoulder injuries as officers cuffed him and took him for booking on a disorderly conduct charge.
Prevete and his codefendant, Court Officer Christopher Ferrari, argued that Milfort defied an order to end his call or get out of the security line and raised his voice to officers, causing a disruption. They denied physically harming him.
"Defendants allege that they had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for disorderly conduct because his behavior in the courthouse lobby created unreasonable noise, obstructed the flow of pedestrian traffic, and otherwise caused a commotion," Kuntz wrote in his Feb. 12 ruling. "Defendants’ argument must fail, however, because there is a genuine dispute regarding what occurred in the courthouse lobby prior to the time of Plaintiff’s arrest."
Kuntz did dismiss Milfort’s equal protection and due process claims. The disorderly conduct charge was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. A spokesman for the court system declined to comment.