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War Vet, 81, Sues NYPD for Wrongful Arrest

Denver BannisterDenver Bannister’s St. Patrick’s Day ordeal earlier this year included an arrest by the New York Police Department for vending without a license and then spending 24 hours in detention—even though the 81-year-old Bannister, a Korean War vet, didn’t do anything wrong.

That ordeal has now led to a lawsuit against the NYPD and the city for wrongful arrest.

His tale is recounted in the New York Daily News, where Bannister said the cops arrested him even though he had a license—and had shown it to another cop.

“I was very confused,” Bannister told the News.

“The tragedy here is that Mr. Bannister is a legitimate vendor,” his lawyer Neil Wollerstein said. “Next week is a day we honor our veterans. I hope the officer who arrested Mr. Bannister takes a minute to think about what he did.”

Bannister spent a total of 14 years in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves and National Guard.

It all started when Bannister set up his table at 42nd St. and Vanderbilt Ave. in March to sell his mini Irish flags to parade goers. He said a police lieutenant asked to see his license, so Bannister produced his city Dept. of Consumer Affairs license, on which it says he’s a disabled veteran.

Bannister said the lieutenant told him, “O.K. — you’re good to go, buddy.”

But the police weren’t done with him yet. He said about 20 minutes later, a younger officer came and arrested him and, with several other officers confiscated his flags.

He was put in handcuffs and charged with vending without a license.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t figure it out to save my life,” Bannister said. “I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

He said the 24 hours he spent in a holding cell “was very uncomfortable,” particularly because he didn’t have his medicine for the back injury he sustained while in the service.

To make matter worse, the police never returned his $1,600 worth of Irish flags, Wollerstein said.

When Bannister returned to court, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office asked a judge to dismiss the charge. But Bannister feels like the city should pay for the NYPD’s mistake. His suit charges the city and the NYPD with negligence and seeks unspecified money damages for his pain and suffering and “emotional suffering,” according to the News.


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