Inquiry Into Officers After They Visit Man Who Accused Police of Assault

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By COLIN MOYNIHAN

The Internal Affairs Bureau at the New York Police Department is looking into an assertion that officers unlawfully entered and searched a Brooklyn apartment belonging to a man who accused officers of assaulting him in his building, police officials said Thursday.
Parts of both instances were recorded by surveillance cameras set up by the man, Jabbar Campbell, a data recovery specialist who runs a recording studio in his home.

In the first episode, in January, Mr. Campbell said, officers kicked and punched him in the ground floor hallway of the building in the Crown Heights neighborhood, bruising his face and cutting his lip. The recorded images did not show contact between Mr. Campbell and the officers, but a camera aimed at the front stoop showed a sergeant turning the lens toward a wall before entering the building that night.

Last Friday, the surveillance cameras once again captured a visit to Mr. Campbell’s building, this time showing three men wearing Police Department jackets pushing open the building’s front door and later entering a room inside an apartment.

Dante Singleton, who shares the second-floor apartment with Mr. Campbell, said the officers entered by pushing open an unlocked door. He said that he asked the officers if they had a search warrant, and that they said they did not. They explained that they were responding to previous noise complaints, Mr. Singleton added.

“They said they had just so happened to be in the neighborhood and they decided to check it out, and that’s pretty much verbatim,” Mr. Singleton said.

Mr. Singleton said the officers told everyone in the eight-room railroad apartment to gather in one area, then asked for identification and wrote down the names of those present. The officers used flashlights as they roamed though the apartment, he said, looking under tables and behind computer equipment - some of which can be seen on the video footage.

“The allegation is being investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau,” a police spokeswoman, Inspector Kim Y. Royster, wrote in an e-mail. “However, the complainant has not provided a copy of the video to investigators.”

Eric Subin, a lawyer representing Mr. Campbell, said he would provide a copy of the recording to the police. He said that the actions described by Mr. Singleton were an “absolute, clear violation of the Fourth Amendment” and added that Mr. Singleton and Mr. Campbell “have a right to expect privacy in their own home.”

Police officers previously showed up at the building, near Schenectady Avenue, on Jan. 13, as Mr. Campbell was hosting a gay-pride party in his apartment. A police officer wrote in a criminal complaint that officers had arrived to ask those at the address to quiet down, but that Mr. Campbell had responded by trying to assault an officer. He was later found to be in possession of marijuana and Ecstasy, the complaint added.

Mr. Campbell told a different story, saying that officers rushed into the ground-floor hallway of his building after he opened the front door and attacked him without provocation while shouting antigay slurs, then searched his apartment without a warrant.

Mr. Campbell said he was concerned that the visit last week could be connected to his criticism of the actions by the police from the earlier episode. Later in January, he told reporters he planned to file a lawsuit against the Police Department, saying he had been unlawfully beaten and arrested. Afterward, he said, he helped organize a protest outside the 77th Precinct.

On Wednesday, prosecutors in Brooklyn dismissed the charge relating to the Ecstasy possession; Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney, said laboratory results were negative for the tablet that the police had presented. Mr. Campbell still faces charges of attempted assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possessing marijuana.

Sitting in Mr. Subin’s office in Manhattan on Wednesday, Mr. Campbell said that he was shaken by the recent visit by the police.

“It has me feeling like these guys are out to get me,” he said.