"Clark Kent vs. Griffiths" by Amer Chess, September 2012
Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.
AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.
Summary: The New York Police Department should never arrest people without probable cause. If the N.Y.P.D. were arresting real trespassers, perhaps prosecutors would not need to conduct face-to-face interviews with the arresting officers.
Clark Kent vs. Griffiths
After playing squash, Richard T. Willslater and Robert T. Johnson were taking showers and relaxing, using white towels that was a courtesy of the gym they visited often.
"Yeah?" Richard chuckled since he was not hundred percent sure if he was addressing him.
"If you were arrested or detained by the police or another person and you feel their actions were unjustified, is it possible to sue for false arrest?"
"Well …", Richard withdrew from the direct water flow, "… under some circumstances, it is."
"It IS?" Robert sounded optimistic.
"Yes. Police misconduct does not always require a victim to receive a physical injury or suffer from police brutality." Richard used a soap. "It can also be a case of infringement on one's individual civil rights."
Richard paused listening to a possible cell phone signal. There was none so he continued shyly.
"Even private citizens have been charged and found guilty of false arrest."
After they washed themselves up, they were wrapped in towels, examining each other chest hair in secret, like some monkeys.
"The legal definition of false arrest is the unlawful restraint of a person's liberty without legal authority." Richard rubbed his hair, plugging in his hair dryer, examining teeth in the large mirror. "This charge cannot only be leveled against police officers, but …", he grinned in secret realizing that Robert had no hair at the top, "… also private security agents or even individual citizens. In fact …", he turned back to check on Robert who was smelling under his armpit, "… the false arrest charges that most often find their way to court are made against private security agents."
Some other gym enthusiasts undressed and then sued the showers. Robert sat like a granny, waiting for some free beer that would never come.
"The most important phrase in the definition of false arrest is …", Richard paused, checking out two young guys that seemed over affectionate towards each other, "… 'without legal authority'." He switched off his dryer, brushed fingers once more through his semi-dry hair and then unplugged the electric device. "Even though some arrests may turn out to be unjustified …", he peeked at the youngsters in secret, "… if they were made with legal authority …", he smiled at the tired-looking Robert, "… they cannot be classified as false arrests."
"Any example to that?" Robert started to dress up without enthusiasm.
"For instance … it is legal for a police officer to arrest someone during the course of an investigation of a crime." Two young guys guffawed and snorted as they hit each other with wet towels. Someone protested, trying to bring back some order and peace. "If that suspect is later found innocent …", Richard tied up his shoe, monitoring Robert's excess fat that resembled a jelly, "... that does not constitute false arrest." He put on his sweater and loosed a collar. "The arresting officer had the legal authority to make the arrest."
"Really?" Robert's face looked dull.
Richard decided to wait for his squash partner, pacing to and fro.
"False arrest charges can be filed against private citizens if they wrongly detain someone by making a citizen's arrest." Richard placed hands into his pockets, looking forward at the football game the following weekend. "A citizen's arrest is only legal if that citizen actually witnessed the crime being committed and can positively identifying the criminal." Two young guys were now singing and laughing under the showers. "They are also required to call the legal authorities immediately to carry out a formal arrest." Robert finally locked his locker and winked at Richard. "If the situation does not fit all of those criteria …", Robert gave him a side-kick and Richard lost his balance, tittering through his teeth, "… the arresting citizen could be …", he hit Robert back in a friendly way, "… sued for false arrest."
As they drove back, they passed a group of masked boys and girls that were probably returning from some masked ball.
"It is rare for a police officer to actually be charged with false arrest. In order for that to happen, the police office must deliberately detain someone who did not commit a crime."
"For instance?" Robert seemed to mock Richard and he eyed him in a scornful way, wondering whether he should continue or not.
"For instance …", Richard suddenly hit the brakes and then pressed his horn, honking and swearing like a decent citizen. "If an officer were to detain a black shopper for no reason …", Richard uttered some bad words as he passed the fat lady who resembled a hippo on a weekend away, "… and had no real probable cause …", some cyclists ran diagonally and he almost hit the last one, sending him to the Neverland, "… the shopper could initiate a false arrest charge. He could possibly receive punitive damages on the grounds of …", he honked as someone drove into his lane without a signal, "… of discrimination if the court decides in favor of the shopper."
"Which they won't …" Robert sniffed and then tapped with his fingers at the door.
They drove pass some "Burgher Haven" and Richard giggled.
"What?" Robert offered him one mocking sneer.
"False arrest is considered a civil crime, otherwise known as a tort."
"That's right." Green light was on and Richard pressed the gas pedal, checking his back mirror. "This type of crime is classified as a misdemeanor."
After he offered him to drive him back home, Robert opted for some night city vista instead and Richard drove towards a popular tourist area.
As he pressed his electronic car lock, he inhaled some fresh night air, admiring the stars above them.
"Did you know that if you haven't dreamed in a while, dreaming becomes an exercise?" Richard winked at Robert. Robert just shrugged with his shoulder, trying to spot his house among million of household lights that stretched for miles and miles in both direction.
"I think it would be a good idea to set aside some time, you know … turn off the television, and just think about the things you like doing." Richard placed his right foot on a boulder. "Maybe you could schedule a long weekend, just for Nancy, and get away somewhere to just relax, unwind, and think about the things that make you happy."
"Nancy? You think she'd accept it?"
"Oh, sure." Richard laughed a bit. "It's easy to get out of the habit of dreaming, but try to find some time that will allow you to get back the feelings you had when you were 18 and felt like you could conquer the world. Visit that place in your mind and your spirit, and think about what you'd aim at if you could do it all over again."
They listened to someone's radio for a while. A night owl hooted behind them.
"Dreaming is a great thing …", Richard picked up some pebbles and started to toss them below, "… but you have to formulate an idea." Robert placed hands in his pockets, tilting on his heels. He was close to the edge and Richard tried to ignore it, feeling tired himself. "Once you have that in place …", he wondered if he was hitting someone below, "… you can begin to develop a strategy for getting there. Make a list of the things you need to do ahead of time to make the transition possible."
"Sounds like a good idea …" Robert withdrew, easing Richard's worry.
"If you need to take some classes or save up and buy some equipment between now and then, just let me know …"
"I guess these are all important issues to address, eh?"
Richard did not answer. He grit with his teeth, checked a young couple that made love in a car and then inhaled some more of fresh air.
"And check out the book 'Fitter' by John Acruff. It's a fantastic read for folks in your situation."
Robert closed in and then eyed Richard from below.
"You are a son of a gun, you know that Dick?"
Richard smiled and then moved towards his car.
"Shall I deliver you to Nancy then?"
As they drove towards Robert's place, he went into some semi-slumber mood, buzzing some tune.
"I recall a time …", Robert sighed, "… and some of those at the gym tonight probably did also …", Richard negotiated a curve, "… when the standards of most people were very similar to our standards."
"Oh?" Richard threw in absent-mindedly, remembering the grocery list.
"No longer is this true." Richard turned his head at Robert, stopping on the red light. An elderly lady was walking a dog that almost pulled her all the way. "I recently read an article in the New York Times concerning a study …", Richard started with a jerk, apologizing, "… which took place during the summer of 2008." He waited for some noisy school bus to pass them by. "A distinguished Notre Dame sociologist led a research team in conducting in-depth interviews with 230 young adults across America." Some teenage girls offered them their tongues and then raised skirts, laughing their heads off after they swooshed by. "I believe we can safely assume that the results would be similar in most parts of the world." He checked the girls in the side mirror.
"How's your church activity Bob?" Richard realized they just passed Robert's chapel.
"Well …", Robert felt a bit anxious, trying to burrow his sight in some retirees that were moving like snails on a pedestrian side, "... As we go about living from day to day …", he sighed again, "… it is almost inevitable that our faith will be challenged."
Richard noticed some Arabic women dressed in hijabs.
"We may at times find ourselves surrounded by others and yet standing in the minority or even standing alone concerning what is acceptable and what is not." Some Jamaican-type men with drums eyed them casually as they drove by. "Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone?"
"Don't ever stand alone, my friend." They stopped for another red light.
"Sure." Robert sounded sarcastic. Richard was too tired to offer any excessive emotions. "As holders of the priesthood of God …", Richard stepped on the gas pedal, "… it is essential that we are able to face … but with courage …", Robert eyed Richard as he was checking some traffic accident down the block, "… whatever challenges come our way." Robert seemed discouraged by not meeting with Richard's eye sight. "Remember the words of Tennyson … 'My strength is as the strength of ten, … because my heart is pure'."
"Hey!" Richard sniggered with a twisted mouth. "That was great!"
As Robert got out of his car, Richard leaned towards him and stared.
"Remember that the Goldfinches often flock with Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls!" He winked and then waved to Robert, joining the oncoming traffic.
Robert shook his head, admiring Richard's self-assured posture. A dog barked, recognizing his owner.