A black Army veteran who was falsely arrested in August because of a computer glitch spent a night in jail listening to racist comments from his white arresting NYPD officer, a new lawsuit alleges.
Najja Plowden says he was walking his dog in Brower Park in Crown Heights after dark that evening when two NYPD officers in a van began questioning him.
Officer Nicholas Loweth allegedly asked Plowden for his identification, which the 35-year-old did not have. Loweth ran Plowden’s name in the NYPD’s system, and a warrant from a 2013 skateboarding summons came up.
Plowden informed the officer that the warrant and summons were dismissed in May, but was told that he was going to be arrested. After police dropped his dog off at his home, Plowden was taken to the 77th Precinct.
While he was in custody, Loweth made racially charged comments to Plowden, including saying that he “wouldn’t have been stopped and detained if you’d been a white guy in a park at night on the Upper East Side,” the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court on Friday alleges.
Plowden told the New York Daily News that the night he was arrested, there had been a white man in the park playing with his dog nearby. He also said there were no signs saying that the park was closed.
Plowden’s lawsuit also claims that Loweth made pro-Donald Trump comments and said the president-elect would end welfare used by “ghetto” residents and “the abuse of resources” such as food stamps in minority neighborhoods.
The lawsuit also confirmed that a judge did dismiss Plowden’s 2013 summons and warrant, but the computer system had not been updated.
Due to his arrest, Plowden, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and works as an occupational therapist for special-education students, has been declared ineligible for work while the Department of Education examines his case.
“I’ve always treated officers with respect,” Plowden said. “I never thought this would ever happen to me.”
Loweth and the NYPD declined to comment on the matter, according to the Daily News, and a spokesman for the city’s law department told the paper that the lawsuit “will be reviewed once we are served.”