NYPD Unlawfully Arrests Man for Vaping on Subway Platform, Again

Ben Keller

NYPD Unlawfully Arrests Man for Vaping on Subway Platform, Again

The NYPD unlawfully arrests Shawn Randall Thomas at least a few times a year for recording and refusing to provide identification, including for using a vaporizer last year.

He’s never been convicted for a any of those crimes.

The New York man was arrested last week in the subway yet again, after a transit cop approached him, demanding his identification under the controversial “Stop and Frisk” law, but without articulating any reasonable suspicion that Thomas had committed an actual crime.

When Shawn Randall Thomas refused to give Sgt. Ronaldo Griffin his identification, the officer from NYPD’s 30th Precinct arrested him.

In front of his children.

“The problem here is not only does vaporizing in the subway not violate the law,” Thomas said in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.

He explained that there was really no way they could not have known him.

“The case I’m going to use to fight this arrest, People v. Thomas, is my own case,” said Thomas and, “that dismissal came down on February 5th. We’re not talking about ten years ago.”

“There’s video on that case from that arrest that they know about in [NYPD] precinct 30,” he continued, “In fact, most of the videos on my channel are from that subway station at that precinct. So they are familiar with the case because it happened in their precinct with their officers.”

When Sergeant Griffin brought Thomas to the station, he asked what he was a being charged with.

Sgt. Griffin replied, “for using your electronic cigarette in the subway.”

But when Thomas was arraigned during his ten-hour stay at the jail, he found out he wasn’t charged with violating the smoking ordinance at all.

Sgt. Griffin only unlawfully charged Thomas with interfering with government administration because he did not provide identification upon request.

“If he couldn’t lawfully charge me with a crime for smoking in the subway,” Thomas noted correctly citing the working of the legal system, “then the interference with government administration doesn’t stand.”

Also, the landmark Supreme Court decision of Terry vs. Ohio in 1968 established that police must have a reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in a crime before invoking a state level “stop and identify” statute such as the infamous “stop and frisk” tactic used and regularly abused by NYPD.

Thomas regularly faces unlawful arrest because he verbally asserts his rights to the NYPD, and few of their officers are even slightly informed of the laws they’re enforcing.

But it never seems to stop the NYPD who are hell bent on making their quotas.

At least that’s what New York Police Department whistle-blowers alleged in their lawsuit against their own department earlier this year.

The allegations of violating the smoking ordinance initially confused Thomas and he raised issue with Sgt. Griffin and deputies at the jail, because he’d just been granted a motion to dismiss a charge for the same allegation three months prior: for allegedly violating the city’s smoking ordinance for smoking an electronic cigarette in the same subway.

That’s when another cop came along and told Thomas that Griffin is a Sgt. insinuating that his arrest was justified because, of course, since he’s a Sgt., he knows the laws he’s paid to enforce.

But Thomas, a police accountability and First Amendment rights activist who PINAC has covered over the past few years, knew better since he’d just beaten his case from cops in that same precinct who alleged the same thing in June of 2015 at the same subway precinct.

Thomas was with his family that day returning from having one of his children immunized when he stepped off the subway car and noticed Sergeant Griffin approaching him, after they had made eye contact.

The timing of that arrest raises suspicion, because just one month prior, Thomas posted a seven second video clip to youtube that shows him flexing his rights on a cop who’d asked him what was in his bag.

“So, what [do] you got in your bag?”

“None of your fucking business; that’s why I got in the bag. Honor your oath, scumbag.”

Today, that video has over 1.7 million views and counting.


We asked Thomas if the thinks he’s being retaliated against, again.

“In every case, in every contact I’ve had with the police, they know me,” claims Thomas, due to his status as a police accountability activist, journalist and expert who the NYPD is desperate to convict of literally anything, even if it was spitting on the sidewalk.

“This guy is a Sergeant. He’s supposed to know better,” Thomas asserted, “What it is is in that particular precinct, I’ve had so many run-ins, they know who I am.”

Thomas has successfully defended himself in court on all previous charges, and said that he’d just questioned a female cop two days prior. He had called her to the stand in a pre-trial hearing for another case that also appears to be retaliation for not paying his subway fare.

“She was there. I had the cop on the witness stand and questioned her in a pre-trial hearing,” said Thomas resolute in his convictions,” Two days later, they see me, and this happens.”

“In that case, I saw them coming and told myself, ‘I know these cops aren’t harassing me again. So I got out my phone,” said Thomas about that Sergeant, “My video proves she’s a liar.”


Cops Gone Rogue