Schenectady County

Federal judge dismisses lawsuit against Schenectady cop

A federal judge has thrown out a $1.5 million lawsuit accusing a city police officer of racial discr

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A federal judge has thrown out a $1.5 million lawsuit accusing a city police officer of racial discrimination and malicious prosecution.

Outar lawsuit

To view the original federal complaint by Anthony Outar against Schenectady police Officer John Ericson, click here.

Judge Gary Sharpe found no grounds to hear the case, which was filed in 2003 by city resident Anthony Outar. Sharpe dismissed the entire lawsuit this morning.

Outar, of 24 Hawk St., claimed police officer John Ericson gave him a traffic ticket on June 4, 2003, because he was prejudiced against Guyanese immigrants. Outar had also claimed the city maliciously prosecuted him by requiring him to come to court to contest the ticket.

The issue revolved around Outar’s mistaken belief that State Street has four lanes in the Hulett Street area. There is just one lane going in each direction, but the lanes are unusually wide and cars often pass each other illegally on that section of the road, Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said.

Outar attempted to pass a Mohawk Ambulance in that wide area, using what he believed was a second lane on his side of the street. The ambulance then turned at an intersection and collided with Outar’s car. Ericson responded to the scene and gave Outar a ticket for illegally passing a vehicle on the right.

“He went around the ambulance on the right and hit it,” Van Norden said.

Outar claimed in his lawsuit that the ambulance did not signal before turning.

He also said Ericson was unsympathetic when he arrived at the accident scene. At one point, Outar accused Ericson of being prejudiced against him because he is Guyanese and has black skin. The lawsuit said Ericson did not deny the accusation.

Van Norden said Ericson wisely remained silent when Outar confronted him.

“I’m glad Mr. Ericson did not respond to it,” he said.

Outar said in his lawsuit that things got even worse when he pleaded not guilty to the ticket. The ticket was not immediately dismissed so he had to face a judge to plead his case.

His lawsuit says, “The defendants maliciously and with intent to harm Mr. Outar, compelled him to appear in court against his will.”

Outar had to seek psychological counseling afterward, at considerable expense, according to the lawsuit, which also said he “endured physical and mental pain” because of the discrimination.

His ticket was dismissed in City Court, and Outar argued in his lawsuit that Ericson had no legal grounds to give him a ticket because state Vehicle and Traffic Law allows vehicles to pass on the right if the street has sufficient width for two or more lanes of traffic in each direction.

Outar’s attorney, Louis P. Oliver Jr. of Albany, could not reached for comment.

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