Jabbar Campbell outside the Sterling Place home where he formerly lived. | GAY CITY NEWS
Roughly six weeks after a 2013 police raid on a Brooklyn private party sparked headlines, police returned to that location and questioned eight people who had gathered there.
“Mr. Campbell eventually had to move out of that place,” said Eric Subin, the attorney who is representing Jabbar Campbell, the party promoter, in his state court lawsuit against the city. “There was a series of harassing gestures.”
In his lawsuit, Campbell reports that two officers from the 77th precinct arrived at his Crown Heights brownstone at about 3 a.m. on January 13, 2013 and instructed him to shut the party down. At the time, Campbell told Gay City News he had produced at least 10 parties in recent months in his Sterling Place home and was “hosting a party for some gay friends of mine” on January 13. He said about 80 people were there.
Weeks after Crown Heights gay man’s party shut down, narcotics officers show up, question eight, make no arrests
About five to 10 minutes after the two officers showed up, additional officers from the 77th precinct arrived, joined by officers from the Patrol Borough Brooklyn North. Campbell said officers in that second wave attacked him when he opened his front door. The lawsuit accuses police of beating Campbell while yelling anti-gay insults.
“They beat me into a daze,” he said in 2013. “They cursed at me and called me all sorts of anti-gay slurs.”
On March 1, 2013, at least three officers from the Narcotics Bureau Brooklyn North arrived at the brownstone and questioned eight people there, according to police reports that were filed this past November in federal lawsuits brought by two of those eight people.
Campbell added the March 1 incident to his state case.
The police report, a “stop, question, and frisk worksheet,” says the officers detected a “strong odor” of marijuana coming from the second floor of the brownstone and they suspected the people inside were trespassing. Police did nothing more than question the people inside. They did not make arrests or issue any summonses, which is a common result of stop and frisk activity. It is very unusual for police to conduct so-called stop and frisks in private homes.
In 2012, 115,535 of 532,911 stops, or 21 percent, occurred “inside,” according to data compiled by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). That designation includes building lobbies and hallways, subway stations, businesses, and what officers identified as “mezzanines” in their reports. Of all the 2012 stops, 1,148 gave “residence” and another 305 gave “dwelling” as the location, though even some of those were outside. What is clear from the NYCLU data is that stop and frisk activity rarely, if ever, occurred in private homes that year. The NYCLU compiled comprehensive data only for 2012.
The original January 13 action received widespread media attention and spawned protests because a video camera at Campbell’s front door showed a police sergeant reaching up and turning it toward the wall before Campbell answered the door the second time. A camera inside the apartment shows police moving the guests out and then searching the apartment. The cameras did not capture Campbell’s arrest or the altercation with police.
Campbell was charged with third-degree assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and possessing marijuana and ecstasy. Those charges were dismissed, Subin said.
In a 2013 email, the police department press office wrote that Campbell had “hosted parties there with a $10 charge per person to enter, then a cash bar on top on that. IAB [Internal Affairs Bureau] is investigating his complaints against the officers.”
In January of 2013, the city’s 311 system showed 22 complaints about loud music or a party associated with Campbell’s address since September of 2012. Precinct commanders receive regular reports about 311 complaints, so it is likely that Campbell’s parties were known to the 77th precinct and were considered a problem. Police responded to at least three of those earlier complaints and either could not gain entry to the apartment or they “observed no violation,” according to the 311 website.
The city’s Law Department did not respond to an email seeking comment and the police department did not respond to an email asking how often stop and frisk activity occurred in private homes.