The subway musician who police arrested for singing on a Williamsburg subway platform — just after an officer read him a law saying what he was doing was legal — is suing the city, claiming wrongful arrest.
In a confrontation caught on video last October, Officer Michael Franco arrested busker Andrew Kalleen while he was playing Pink Floyd and Neil Young songs on the Church-Avenue-bound platform of the G train at the Metropolitan Avenue station, even though Kalleen explained how what he was doing was perfectly legal according to the rules of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
He even had the officer read the law stating that his strumming was allowed, but was eventually taken away by Franco and two other officers, to the jeers of subway riders awaiting the next train. He spent five hours in jail.
“The officer did not take care to handle this properly,” Kalleen said. “When he was faced with reading the law aloud, he should have changed his stance, but he chose not to.”
Kalleen has been to court four times so far. Twice he said he was told that the court did not have his paperwork. The other two times, he attempted to get a disposition, but was told he would have to get another court date first, he said. The process has left him frustrated with the court system as well.
“I have been pretty disappointed to see that a lack of integrity extends beyond the street,” he said.
Now, Kalleen and lawyer Paul Hale say they will file the wrongful arrest lawsuit by the end of the month.
Hale said is gathering a group of at least six musicians who have come to him with similar stories of arrest to add as plaintiffs to the suit.
The city wouldn’t comment on the suit, saying that it would review it after it is filed.