The Nassau County Legislature on Monday approved a $200,000 settlement with a former Westbury man who alleged in a federal lawsuit that Nassau police arrested him falsely in 2014 and violated his civil rights.
The 19-member county legislature approved the settlement with Damien Coleman, 49, now of Jericho, in a unanimous vote and without discussion. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman is expected to approve the payment, a spokesman said.
Attorneys for Coleman filed the lawsuit in 2016, alleging that Coleman was unlawfully stopped, searched, and "falsely arrested" by Nassau police officers while driving with a passenger in Roosevelt.
The suit alleged that on Aug. 5, 2014, Nassau police stopped Coleman's car "without cause or justification, and thereafter detained, searched, and unlawfully arrested" him.
Officers, "unreasonably" ordered Coleman to exit the vehicle and "unreasonably" searched him and his car and "did not find any contraband on [Coleman] or otherwise" in his "actual or constructive possession," the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit said Coleman was imprisoned and arraigned on "baseless charges."
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office dismissed and sealed the charges against Coleman a year later, according to court papers.
After the suit was filed the Nassau County Attorney's office said in court papers: “Plaintiff’s constitutional and statutory rights have not been violated by the County Defendants … The County Defendants’ actions complained of were in full accordance with the applicable law.”
The suit said police officers, "created and manufactured false evidence," and noted that a police officer, "swore to false allegations that the defendant officers had purportedly recovered drugs in plain view" in Coleman's car.
Coleman's suit said that — unknown to him — his passenger had a "bag of cocaine and a marijuana cigarette concealed in his pants pockets," which one of the officers "discovered during his search" of the passenger.
Outside counsel hired to represent the defendants said in recent court papers: "There was probable cause for the arrest and subsequent prosecution."
The counsel also wrote in court papers that there was "no evidence of malice. Officers found nearly twenty grams of cocaine during a traffic stop, and arrested the occupants of the vehicle." The drugs were not on the passenger's person, but inside the vehicle, the lawyers said in court papers.
Chris Boyle, a county spokesman, said, "The administration believes that today's settlement, which was passed unanimously by the legislature, is in the best interest of Nassau taxpayers."
In court papers, lawyers for Coleman, a real estate broker, said he was subject to a pretextual traffic stop. Coleman's suit said the police car had been "tailgating" him before he signaled to turn left.
Coleman was "issued a traffic ticket" that "falsely alleged that [Coleman] failed to signal before turning …" His lawyers said Coleman did signal before turning left.