One of the remaining property owners in the footprint of the proposed Atlantic Yards project is suing developer Bruce Ratner for mounting a surveillance camera in his building, and then having him arrested for taking it down.
“They took me out in handcuffs, put me in the back of a police car and took me to the station,” said Lars Williams, who lives with his sister in a building on Sixth Avenue between Pacific and Dean streets that he co-owns with his dad.
“I spent a night in jail for taking a camera off [our] building,” said Williams in disbelief.
The Williams family sued last week in Manhattan Supreme Court charging that Ratner’s company had no right to install a video camera on the premises.
The suit — which names Bruce Ratner, his vice president, James Stuckey, and their company, Forest City Ratner — also claims that a man named Michael Machuch, an “agent and/or employee” of Ratner’s, had Williams arrested on Oct. 1 for burglary by wrongly telling cops that the camera had been on Ratner-owned property.
Williams was booked, but released on his own recognizance pending a court date next month.
Despite repeated attempts by The Brooklyn Papers, a Forest City Ratner spokesperson refused to comment. When a reporter called FCR directly asking for Machuch, she was told that there was no employee by that name.
Security cameras have been sprouting up all over the footprint for the proposed $4.2-billion office, residential, hotel and arena mega-project, but this is the first time anyone has claimed that Ratner is attaching them to privately owned homes.
The Williams family first discovered the camera a couple of weeks ago.
“My daughter’s boyfriend, as an experiment, blocked the lens with a piece of paper,” said Peter Williams, Lars’s father.
“Then, a person arrived and asked him, ‘What are you doing with the camera?’ A couple of days later, I asked my son to remove it and he did.”
And then his son was arrested.
Peter Williams said he allows Forest City Ratner to use his hallway as an emergency exit for the developer’s building next door.
But he thinks the surveillance camera was an attempt by Forest City Ratner to intimidate him into selling his property.
“Forest City Ratner has threatened to condemn us unless we make a deal,” said Williams.
But now, Williams is even less eager to negotiate: “This pisses me off,” he said.