Buffalo man awarded six figures for "racial injustice"

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jul 15, 2016

Justin Levy has been waiting seven years for what he calls "vindication."

The now 28-year-old African American man was arrested outside of his aunt's house on Millicient Street in Buffalo by a white police officer back in 2009. But Thursday, a jury sided with him and awarded Levy a $320,002 settlement, calling his arrest "unlawful and malicious."

According to Levy, he showed up at his aunt's house in response to a medical emergency. When police arrived on scene, he was told to stay outside, which he did. After the officers came back outside Levy then asked if he could see her and that's when he said he was "thrown against a car, handcuffed, arrested and brought to the Erie County Holding Center" where he spent more than 24 hours behind bars.

The case was later thrown out by Buffalo City Court. Soon after, Levy filed a civil lawsuit.

Levy's attorneys, Steven Cohen and William Lorenz, said cases like these are hard to take to verdict, especially without physical evidence, but Levy's is a rare case.

"He's a black man, a young black man. He was arrested without probable cause and this jury spoke with a clear voice that in Western New York, we're not going to tolerate that, we're not going to tolerate racial profiling," Cohen stated. 

In response to the verdict, City of Buffalo spokesman Mike DeGeorge said, "The city does not comment on pending litigation. At this time the city is reviewing the verdict and assessing its options."

The officer in question, Raymond Harrington, is currently still employed by the Buffalo Police Department.