Waiting for the busker suit to drop: Subway musician to sue for ‘wrongful arrest’

Fighting City Hall: Police arrested musician Andrew Kalleen last fall for playing his guitar on the G platform in the Metropolitan stop. Kalleen claims that cops pick on buskers to meet their quotas.
The Brooklyn Paper
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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.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Or from Yellow Hook says:
It's in the Bill of Rights - the right to annoy people shall not be infringed.

What about the people who apply for and receive permits to perform in the subway - move aside - Kallen is here!
Jan. 28, 2015, 7:40 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
There should be a decibel level test for permits -- and no percussion permitted.
Jan. 28, 2015, 8:09 am
The cop should pay from his own pocket for his m from NYC tax payers paid over $500,000,000 last year for NYPD mistakes says:
Again. Tax payers will pay for wrongful arrest.
Its time to make that cop pay for the settlement from his own paycheck.
Cops are doing questionable things and tax payers are paying for it. Why does not the cop pay for how own mistake. from his own pocket.
Last year, NYC paid over $500,000,000 of tax payers money for Cops mistakes.
Jan. 28, 2015, 10:01 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I wish there were a way for our garbage cops to be held responsible for their crimes.

A round of layoffs would have the right effect. Hurt our garbage cops, save money, and make incidents like this less likely in the future.
Jan. 28, 2015, 10:09 am
ty from pps says:
Or -- It doesn't matter if the City decided to create some sort of "permit" system to issue permits for activities that are already authorized...

From the MTA "Rules of Conduct" --
The following nontransit uses are permitted by the Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules: public speaking; campaigning; leafletting or distribution of written noncommercial materials; activities intended to encourage and facilitate voter registration; artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations; solicitation for religious or political causes;

So, Or, do you see? You're asking a silly question. I am authorized by the city to park my car on my street, except during street sweeping periods. If they invented some fancy sticker I could put on my car, but didn't change the underlying law, I wouldn't need a sticker. Get it?
Jan. 28, 2015, 10:23 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
I see an open case on the ground - he's begging. No permit for that.
Jan. 28, 2015, 5:35 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
There is no lawsuit here, as the law does state what he was doing was unauthorized. However, since the city seems bent on settling every case, regardless of merit or proportionality, who knows. Of course, when this guy states he is suing the police, he is actually suing you, since tax payers are the one to foot the bill. We should all think about removing state and city liability. Does suing the city really deter city workers from unauthorized or illegal actions? The answer is no.
Jan. 28, 2015, 8 pm
Son of Tal from Unpleasantville says:
Quiet everyone, Ty from pps is talking.
Jan. 28, 2015, 11:47 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Like Neal Young says, he's "Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless."
Jan. 29, 2015, 8:34 am
ty from pps says:
Umm... Oh Wise Rufus. "artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations"
Jan. 29, 2015, 9:45 am
ty from pps says:
"We should all think about removing state and city liability."

Charles -- That's pretty close to the most frightening idea ever. Just think through that one for a minute.

"Does suing the city really deter city workers from unauthorized or illegal actions? The answer is no."

If the NYPD and other city agencies actually disclosed and tracked the $$ spent on settling civil lawsuits, then the lawmakers and citizens in general might be more inclined to force a change in behavior (including firing). But the NYPD just lets the city coffers suck it up and avoids disclosure because the last think they want is their behavior changed.
Jan. 29, 2015, 9:58 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Who defines "artistic" ?
Jan. 29, 2015, 2:43 pm
ty from pps says:
It ain't the NYPD, Rufus.
Jan. 29, 2015, 5:07 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Just a idea. And yes, it could be frightening. However, I think making it easier to fire city workers could substitute for decreased liability. MANY countries do not allow state and city liability. Life is life, and sometimes it's unfair. Welcome to the real world. In my opinion, state and city liability does not deter unauthorized or illegal conduct. Personal liability of the offender does, in my opinion.
Jan. 30, 2015, 9:32 am

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