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Busker plans to sue city for unlawful arrest

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The subway musician who police arrested for loitering while singing on a Williamsburg subway platform — even after an officer read him a law saying what he was doing was legal — is suing the city for wrongful arrest.

In an 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 argued 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 singing was legal, but was eventually taken away by Franco and two other officers to the jeers of subway riders awaiting the next train, and spent five hours in jail.

“The officer did not take care to handle this properly,” said Kalleen. “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 in total so far. Twice he was told that the court did not have his paperwork. The other two times, he attempted to get a disposition, but the court told him he would have to get another court date first, leaving 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 have their wrongful arrest suit filed 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 and he plans to file them all as one suit with multiple plaintiffs.

The city wouldn’t comment on the suit, saying that it would review it after it is filed.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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