Mount Vernon – Lauren P. Raysor, Esq., Principal of Lauren P. Raysor, Attorney at Law and former Mount Vernon Corporation Council announced the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of Mount Vernon resident Gordon Tarrant for false arrest, Saturday, November 21st across the street from the Mount Vernon Police Department (see video below). The complaint alleges that Mr. Tarrant was falsely arrested in a case of mistaken identity, but was prosecuted anyway.
The lawsuit against the City of Mount Vernon, County of Westchester, MVPD Detective Camilo Antonini, several other officers, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino and several ADA’s including John C Thomas, Patrick Marcarchuk, Elizabeth J. Knowlton, Catrina Blanco Butitrago and Maria I. Wager alleges on April 26, 2018 members of the MVPD and the Westchester County Police intentionally and willfully subjected Tarrant to false arrest and false imprisonment.
After over a year and approximately 20 court appearances the charges were dropped, the case was dismissed. Mr. Tarrant is seeking monetary damages for being prosecuted alleging violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights which is making it hard for him to obtain employment because of the publicity of the arrest and being prosecuted.
Mount Vernon arrested 22 in a year-long drug operation dubbed “Operation Crackdown,” city officials announced during a Friday, April 27, 2018 afternoon press conference. Ten are still wanted, Lohud reported. All 22 suspects have been charged with various drug-related crimes, including felony criminal sale of a controlled substance. Most of them were arrested last Thursday, Police Commissioner Shawn Harris said.
Detective Camilo Antonini accused of several charges including false arrest, planting evidence and illegal strip searches was placed on desk duty in September 2020, following Gothamist/WNYC’s publication of a video showing him conducting a strip search in an apartment in apparent violation of department rules, The Gothamist/WNYC reported as part of an ongoing series on police corruption allegations in Mount Vernon.
“If the facts continue to show that Gordon Tarrant and the other men were wrongfully targeted by certain police officers, then the City must apologize and act on properly funding city operations to ensure equal treatment under the law is for everyone,” former Mayor Richard Thomas shared with Black Westchester. “In justice, there should be no room for injustice. Mr. Tarrant’s example is a symptom of a larger problem that can only be fixed by confronting it – no matter how ugly or difficult it may get.
We reached out to current Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard who served in the Thomas Administration , she had no comment.
On the morning of April 26, 2018, Mr. Tarrant was in his Mount Vernon apartment when he heard a loud pounding at the door. He looked out the window and saw officers from the City of Mount Vernon and Westchester County Police Departments. They identified themselves as “parole, probation and pardon services,” although the Plaintiff was not on parole or probation. As he answered the door, officers threw him against the wall, handcuffed him and arrested him without a warrant.
After being searched twice, Mr. Tarrant was transported to the Mount Vernon Police Station and booked on charges of Bail Jumping in the Third Degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree and Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. He spent seven hours in jail before appearing in court.
Gordon Tarrant alleges after he opened his door and surrendered to law enforcement in hallway the officer ran in his apartment with guns drawn on his wife and aunt (who has since left the city of Mount Vernon because of being shook up from the incident) and alleges the officers did not have a warrant at the time. He wants an apology from the MVPD and questions why the DA Scarpino’s office is failing to investigate the officers involved.
“They just knew I was guilty from day one and wanted me to take a plea deal but I refused,” Mr. Tarrant shared. “They said well then were, going to court, I said let take it to court because I did not do anything and I won’t take a plea for something I did not do.”
Black Westchester has learned some of the others arrested did end up taking a plea. Karen A. Newirth, director of the Exoneration Project‘s Mass Exoneration Initiative appeared on the Black Westchester Power Hour, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, to discuss some of the other individuals who were arrested and allegedly wrongfully incarcerated in the same April 2018 drug crackdown.
Black Westchester reached out to former MVPD Commissioner Shawn Harris, who was in office at time of arrest and we were unable to get him in time for story. Harris served as Acting Police Commissioner after the departure of Ronald Fatigate in 2017 until being appointed Commissioner by Mayor Richard Thomas a year later.
We reached out to current MVPD Commissioner Glen Scott – who said he hadn’t seen the press conference nor the complaint from Mr. Tarrant – for comment to the Corporation Council. Mount Vernon Corporation Council Brian Johnson and the Westchester District Attorney’s office each had no comment, when we reached out to them.
District Attorney Anthony Scarpino who has been accused of turning a blind eye on governmental corruption and police criminality lost his bid for re-election to former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah who gets sworn in January 2021.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story.