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“I was a black man driving a nice car,” Melvin Brown told the New York Daily News. “I don’t see any other reason why they stopped me.”
Brown, 51, says he was wearing a bandana as part of his job with the Department of Transportation. Although Brown says the bandana protects him from dust and dirt when he’s laying asphalt for the city, it served as a reason for the NYPD to stop him.
Brown was driving his 2008 BMW in April of 2013 when Officer Andrew Acierno pulled him over. Acierno explained that Brown’s music was loud and accused him of wearing a mask over his face. Brown says he showed Acierno and another officer his work badge, but the bandana was covering his neck, not his mouth.
“The bandanna was around my neck. It wasn’t covering my mouth at all,” Brown told The Daily News.
Brown says the officers then told him that he was wanted on a warrant and forcibly arrested him. He was charged with playing loud music and wearing a mask in public.
“The officers had no legitimate reason to stop my client in the first place,” said lawyer Alan Levine. “To then manhandle him so severely as to tear his rotator cuff is truly outrageous.”
The mask law is supposed to hinder groups of people who are wearing masks in public, such as protesters, not individuals.
Brown, who is a married father, is suing the city for damages stemming from the arrest.