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Case Name Edrei v. Bratton PN-NY-0061
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-01652 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Policing
Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
This is a case about the use of long range acoustic devices (LRADs) by New York City Police Officers against civilians in connection with racial justice, anti-police brutality protests. The case took place against the backdrop of recent racial justice protests against the killing of people of color ... read more >
This is a case about the use of long range acoustic devices (LRADs) by New York City Police Officers against civilians in connection with racial justice, anti-police brutality protests. The case took place against the backdrop of recent racial justice protests against the killing of people of color by police officers.

On December 4, 2014, the plaintiffs were each protesters, observers, journalists, or filmmakers who were observing, participating in, or documenting a demonstration in response to a Staten Island grand jury’s decision the previous day not to indict a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer in the controversial death of Eric Garner. The protest, which began in the afternoon and lasted long into the night, began peacefully; police officers on the scene escorted and facilitated the protests. Police began making arrests sometime in the early morning to some protesters' verbal opposition. After some objects were thrown at police by some of the protesters (none by the Plaintiffs), police deployed pepper spray and the crowd began dispersing. At this time, two officers stood in the street and fired the LRAD at dispersing protesters, identified themselves as officers, and ordered people to stay on the sidewalk and off the street or be placed in custody. The officers walked the length of the street and within three minutes had fired the LRAD between fifteen and twenty times. At certain times when the LRAD was fired, the officers were within ten feet from the Plaintiffs. The plaintiffs reported sustained physical injuries as a result of the acoustics from the LRAD, including migraines, sinus pain, dizziness, facial pressure, ear ringing, and noise sensitivity.

The plaintiffs filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in March 2016, against New York City, the specific officers who fired the LRAD, and the NYPD Commissioner. The plaintiffs claimed that firing the LRAD: (1) caused an unlawful seizure of Plaintiffs’ persons and was excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) violated Plaintiffs’ right to assemble and express protected speech and that use of the LRAD was in retaliation to the Plaintiffs’ speech; (3) violated the Plaintiffs’ rights to Equal Protection and Due Process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment; (4) that the City of New York had failed to enact proper training, policies, and supervision for the use of LRADs prior to their usage on the night in question, resulting in the constitutional rights violations; (5) constituted either an Assault or Battery under New York state law; (6) constituted false imprisonment under New York state law; (7) was negligent under New York state law; (8) violated rights specified under the New York State Constitution; and (9) that the NYPD Police Commissioner was liable for the conduct of the officers who fired the LRAD.

The government filed a motion to dismiss all charges. On May 31, 2017, Judge Robert W. Sweet of the Southern District of New York partially granted the motion to dismiss. Counts two, three, six, seven, eight, and nine were dismissed but the remaining claims were allowed to proceed. 254 F.Supp.3d 565. The government filed an interlocutory appeal the following June seeking to dismiss the remaining claims using the defense of Qualified Immunity. In August, Judge Sweet granted the government’s motion to stay the remaining proceedings pending the outcome of officers’ qualified immunity defense.

In June 2018, Chief Judge Robert Katzmann of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled against the Defendants and affirmed the District Court denial of the qualified immunity defense for the Fourteenth Amendment claims (254 F.Supp.3d 565). The case was remanded to the District Court and discovery proceedings commenced. One of the Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed all of his claims in September of 2019. The government appealed to the Supreme Court but the court denied certiorari.

The parties to the case were referred to a Magistrate Judge in March of 2020 and a settlement conference was scheduled later that year. Following multiple settlement conferences over the remainder of 2020, the parties reached an agreement and the case was ordered dismissed by Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District of New York in January 2021.

The settlement stipulated as follows: In exchange for no admission of guilt by the defendants and the voluntary dismissal of all of the plaintiffs’ claims, the NYPD agreed to implement new guidelines and training materials for the use of LRADs, including banning use of the LRAD deterrent tone altogether, requiring better recordkeeping of LRAD usage, and listing specific operators allowed to use LRADs. The City of New York also paid damages to specific plaintiffs in addition to paying their attorney’s fees. More on the settlement can be read here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/skh6m5ryhy1ixvd/Edrei%20LRAD%20Press%20Release.pdf?dl=0%20%20(cut%20and%20pasted%20below)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/8qxh6aqw8jefzcv/%20Edrei%20LRAD%20FAQ.pdf?dl=0

The settlement agreement provides for no ongoing court supervision; thus, the case is effectively over.

John Duffield - 06/14/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Recordkeeping
Training
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
Failure to train
False arrest
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) New York City
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs were present at and either observing, documenting, or participating in a demonstration in response to a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a New York City Police Department officer when they allegedly suffered injuries from police use of long range acoustic devices (LRAD).
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 03/03/2016
Case Closing Year 2021
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Edrei LRAD Press Release
Cohen & Green, PLLC
Date: Apr. 19, 2021
By: Elena Cohen
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Victory for NLG NYC Members in Civil Rights Case Challenging NYPD Use of LRAD Sound Cannons Against Protesters
Date: Jun. 1, 2017
(National Lawyers Guild)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Edrei v. NYC LRAD Litigation Settlement
By: Elena Cohen
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
04/19/2021
1:16-cv-01652-JMF
PN-NY-0061-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
03/03/2016
Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 1]
PN-NY-0061-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
08/03/2016
First Amended Complaint and Demand For a Jury Trial [ECF# 21]
PN-NY-0061-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/31/2017
Opinion [ECF# 53] (254 F.Supp.3d 565)
PN-NY-0061-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
08/31/2017
Opinion [ECF# 66] (2017 WL 3822744)
PN-NY-0061-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
06/13/2018
Opinion [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit] [Ct. of App. ECF# 72-1] (892 F.3d 525)
PN-NY-0061-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/16/2019
[Order] [ECF# 78]
PN-NY-0061-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/14/2021
Order of Dismissal [ECF# 142]
PN-NY-0061-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/19/2021
Stipulation of Settlement [ECF# 144]
PN-NY-0061-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Furman, Jesse Matthew (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-0005 | PN-NY-0061-0006 | PN-NY-0061-0008 | PN-NY-0061-9000
Katzmann, Robert A. (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-0007
Sweet, Robert Workman (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-0003 | PN-NY-0061-0004
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cohen, Elena L (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-0001 | PN-NY-0061-0002 | PN-NY-0061-0005 | PN-NY-0061-9000
Decker, Michael J (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-9000
Massimi, Jessica (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-9000
Oliver, Gideon Orion (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-0001 | PN-NY-0061-0002 | PN-NY-0061-0005 | PN-NY-0061-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brocker, Peter William (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-0005 | PN-NY-0061-0008 | PN-NY-0061-9000
Garman, Ashley Rebecca (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-9000
Johnson, James E. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-0005
Wachs, Melissa (New York) show/hide docs
PN-NY-0061-9000

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