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Activist sues Nassau PD over alleged false arrest

An activist is suing the Nassau County Police Department for false arrest, claiming his civil rights were violated when he demonstrated outside Hofstra University during the October 2012 presidential debate.

Clark Stoeckley was handing out political literature about the Bradley Manning espionage case when he was approached by two plainclothes detectives, according to a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

The detectives, identified as Edward Rogan and Jeff Raymond, chatted with Stoeckley, who had worked as a courtroom illustrator during Manning's trial, then began filming Stoeckley and his friends, the suit states.

Stoeckley asked the detectives if they were police officers and started taking pictures of them with his cellphone, according to the suit.

"Immediately thereafter, Mr. Stoeckley was accosted by four uniformed Nassau County police officers," the suit states.

Manhattan attorney Gillian Cassell-Stiga said her client was arrested Oct. 16, 2012, "without probable cause and clearly in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights and photographing someone who was photographing him."

Through a spokesman, Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey called the lawsuit frivolous, declining further comment. Nassau police officials declined to comment.

According to the suit, Stoeckley was taken to a trailer on the other side of the Hofstra campus, where he was searched and photographed. His phone was confiscated, and Rogan and Raymond deleted the photos Stoeckley had taken of them.

He was then taken to a warehouse where he was again searched, and where one police officer questioned him about his political affiliation, the suit states. Eventually, he was handcuffed and taken to a police precinct, where he was charged with obstruction of governmental administration.

Stoeckley was in custody for nearly 24 hours. The charges against him were dismissed the following month, the suit states.

Manning, an Army private, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for the biggest leak of classified documents in U.S. history. He later changed his gender, becoming Chelsea Manning.

Stoeckley, 32, of Essex County, New Jersey, is a supporter of WikiLeaks, the nonprofit news organization that was the benefactor of Manning's whistle-blowing. WikiLeaks specializes in publishing leaked documents from anonymous officials alongside investigative news stories.

The suit, filed Feb. 3, does not specify damages. Rogan and Raymond, and four "John Doe" police officers, are named as defendants.

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