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$330,000 Awarded to Brooklyn Woman and Minor Nephew over False Arrest and Two Years of Malicious Prosecution

by Christopher Zoukis

A Brooklyn woman and her 16-year-old nephew, who were charged with harassing a police officer and obstruction, then compelled to attend around 20 court appearances over two years before the charges were finally dropped, were awarded $330,000 in damages by a New York jury.

     On May 9, 2006, police arrived at the apartment of Tammy Moses, 44, in search of an armed male youth. Moses claimed that Officer Jason Deonarinesingh entered her apartment, where she was conducting child care services, without her consent, suggesting that she was hiding the suspect.

     Deonarinesingh claimed that Moses jumped on his back and that Moses’ nephew, Shareef Watford, ran out of the apartment and attacked him and another officer.

    Watford maintained that he arrived at Moses’ apartment after she had been arrested, was told, "You have a big mouth; you’re coming with us," and was arrested, too. Moses and Watford were charged with harassing a police officer, menacing a police officer and obstruction of governmental administration.

     After being processed, Moses and Watford were shackled and taken to Rikers Island jail where they were strip searched. Watford was released the next day, and Moses was released after six days. They showed up to about 20 court appearances until July 2008, when their cases were dismissed. Watford was a South Carolina resident at the time and had to remain in New York for two years.

     Moses and Watford filed a complaint in King’s County Supreme Court against Deonarinesingh and the city of New York, alleging that they were falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted, in violation of their civil rights. The city was dismissed from the case during trial. Moses and Watford sought $800,000 for their emotional suffering and another $1 million in punitive damages.

     After a five-day trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding Moses $195,000 and Watford $135,000 for a total of $330,000. The case was presided over by Judge Larry D. Martin, and the plaintiffs were represented by Seth A. Harris of Burns & Burns, Esqs.

See: Watford, et al., v. Deonarinesingh, King’s County Supreme Court, Case No. 30350/08 (July 19, 2012)

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Related legal case

Watford, et al., v. Deonarinesingh