Suit: Black Man Did 6 Weeks at Rikers— Over Hoodie

NYC's David Owens lost his job after being accused of crime he didn't commit
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2015 9:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – A solid alibi did nothing to keep David Owens from getting arrested—because he matched a less-than-credible witness' vague description of a subway thief who was a young black male in a hoodie, the New York Daily News reports. Owens is now suing New York City and 11 NYPD officers for wrongfully arresting him in the early hours of Oct. 23, 2012, as well as for the six weeks he languished at Rikers Island until his case was dropped for lack of evidence. Owens says in the suit that his trouble started when he clocked out of his stock clerk job at Macy's at 3am, then headed home on the No. 1 subway, per Newsweek. But several cops got on the train at the 50th Street station, "demanded" Owens' ID, removed him from the train, and searched him. The problem: a crying "Caucasian woman" who said her backpack had been stolen at a train station at 2:30am.

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"The woman's description of the culprit was limited at best—i.e., a young African American male with a dark hoodie," the lawsuit states. Owens had no backpack, offered up his punched timecard, and gave cops contact info for his supervisor, but police took the word of the witness—described in the police affidavit as "erratic, possibly intoxicated, and definitely hysterical," per the Daily News—and carted Owens off. He was charged with grand larceny and thrown in jail, where he stayed for six weeks because he couldn't pay the $3,500 bail—a stint that cost him his job. "He became a victim of the worst stereotype there is: a young African-American male in a hoodie up to no good," his lawyer says. Adds Owens himself, per the New York Post: "I felt like the police didn't care about the truth." (Exonerating women accused of certain crimes is no easy task, either.)

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