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Lawsuit: Newark Cops Illegally Detained High School Student

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Police Headquarters - Newark, NJ - File Photo

Police Headquarters – Newark, NJ – File Photo

levon_feature Levon Putney
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NEWARK, NJ (CBSNewYork/AP) - A federal civil rights lawsuit claims Newark police officers illegally handcuffed and detained a high school honors student who made a cell phone video of them responding to an incident on a New Jersey Transit bus.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney: They Made Her Cry

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Newark by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Seton Hall Law School Center for Social Justice.

It claims Khaliah Fitchette, 17, was unlawfully threatened with criminal charges and that the officers illegally seized her cellphone and deleted the video.

“She grabbed me and pulled me off the bus and took me to the cop car which was behind the bus,” Fitchette told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney. “… and then I just started crying.”

A police department spokesman did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment Monday.

The lawsuit says Fitchette and several classmates were riding a city bus in March 2010 when a man in front of them collapsed. Newark Police Officers Noemi Maloon and Lloyd Thomas responded to the scene and after spotting Fitchette videotaping the incident, ordered her to turn the phone off. The lawsuit claims Fitchette was detained when she refused and that officers ignored her repeated pleas to call her mother.

The ACLU is asking the Justice Department to investigate the Newark Police Department.

“Individuals at the highest levels of the Newark Police Department have continued to turn a blind eye to repeated, pervasive unlawful behavior by its officers,” said Seton Hall Law Professor Baher Azmy. “The abuse of the rights of Newark citizens will continue, unless the Newark Police Department finally confronts and implements serious reforms among its officers.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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