by Steve Eastman, Wait Til You Hear This
Christopher Graham doesn’t look like a typical chaplain. He dresses informally and has dreadlocks. Maybe that’s why New York City police felt free to treat him roughly when the mother of his children called 911 to report he had attacked her with the blunt end of a machete.
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According to Graham, “They pulled [my] hat off my head and pulled dreadlocks out of my head. They slammed me to the floor and held me down. One of them was stepping on my neck and my face. The other one was trying to break my leg.”
The 51 year-old Department of Corrections Chaplain denies the allegation that brought police to his apartment. A judge also dropped related charges of misdemeanor assault, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest and harassment.
But then an officer noticed Graham’s ID tag and everything changed.
The incident happened in September 2010. It’s taken over four years for Graham’s lawsuit to make its way to court. But it only took fifty minutes for a jury to award him $3.95 million in damages. Graham, who suffered broken bones, had to have two surgeries and still copes with post-traumatic arthritis.
You’d think New York officials would see the folly of allowing police to serve as judge, jury and not quite executioner at a suspected crime scene. Think again. A city attorney is considering whether to challenge the verdict.
© 2015 Wait Til You Hear This
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“I was news director of a radio station for almost 10 years, trained by a future anchor of National Public Radio. During that time I won 16 awards from Associated Press and the Radio/TV News Directors Association. I’ve also hosted talk radio and cable television programs and worked as assignment editor for a network TV affiliate. I want to tell the stories we need to hear that are conveniently ignored by the mainstream media. I feel that the way you deliver a message can be almost as important as the content, because it reflects on its credibility. In our society too much effort goes into promoting consumerism and not enough into championing the really important things.” — Steve Eastman