2005-05-03 Arrest Is Undercut by a Videotape – NY Times

Another Convention Arrest Is Undercut by a Videotape


New York Times

May 3rd, 2005

By Jim Dwyer

In the seven months since Eliza Wyka was arrested during the
Republican National Convention, the district attorney’s office has
offered three times to declare a kind of judicial ceasefire, saying
it would drop charges against her if she stayed out of trouble for
six months.

More than 1,100 of the 1,800 people arrested during the convention
have agreed to just those terms, formally known as an “adjournment in
contemplation of dismissal.”

Ms. Wyka, however, was adamant: she had done nothing wrong, merely
ridden her bicycle on Aug. 29 up Avenue of the Americas to Herald
Square, where she was arrested by police officers who, she said,
were sweeping anyone on two wheels into custody. She wanted to be
unconditionally exonerated. So she kept coming back to court. Her
trial was due to begin this morning.

Last week, however, she had second thoughts.

A native of Poland, Ms. Wyka, 26, came to the United States around
the age of 8 and is a lawful permanent resident, though not a citizen.
Perhaps, she said, she would not be able to overcome police testimony.
She asked her lawyer, Howard R. Leader, to find out if it was too
late to accept the truce.

This would put an end to the court appearances and the charges
that she and another woman had, on their ride, obstructed government
administration, engaged in disorderly conduct and paraded without a
permit. (Ms. Wyka said she never saw or met the other woman, a city
schoolteacher, until they were both in custody.)

When Mr. Leader called the assistant prosecutor last week, he
learned there would not be a trial today. The reason: a videotape had
turned up, showing that Ms. Wyka had not been riding with the teacher.
Moreover, charges had already been dropped against the teacher.

Yesterday morning, prosecutors also moved to dismiss the case
against Ms. Wyka, and attached no strings. Barbara Thompson, a
spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney, said, “The video
casts doubt on whether the incident happened the way the officer

For her part, Ms. Wyka said, she will not go to a police warehouse
to retrieve the bicycle seized that day. “It’s an object that has been
violated,” she said.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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