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Cops Forced Man to Rap for His Freedom, Lawsuit Claims

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on November 05, 2013 3:04 PM

A Brooklyn man claims he was forced to rap to avoid arrest, and he's suing in federal court to recover from the NYPD.

Quinshon Shingles' lawsuit claims the aspiring hip-hop artist was at a friend's home in 2011 when the "a crew of cops" coerced him into doing a freestyle rap for his freedom, the New York Post reports.

Thankfully for Shingles, his rap was apparently freedom-worthy and the cops let him go. But what does Shingles hope to get in his suit against the New York Police Department (NYPD)?

Cops Love a Good Freestyle Rap

Both Shingles and Donyale Kitchens, the apartment's tenant, are suing the NYPD for "illegal search and false imprisonment" after the cops allegedly entered and searched Kitchens' place in 2011.

When police are acting under a legal search warrant, they are also authorized to briefly detain -- with handcuffs -- any persons in the residence while it is legally searched. If the NYPD had a legal search warrant for Kitchens' place, they could have lawfully put Shingles in handcuffs while they completed the search.

However, the lawsuit alleges that the NYPD didn't have a search warrant, and only gained entry by getting the consent of the building's super. Even if this consent entitled officers to a lawful search of Kitchens' premises, it would not entitle them to detain Shingles for their entertainment.

Police can legally detain someone for officer safety purposes, but the law looks pretty dimly on using your badge to squeeze a plaintive rap out of someone like Shingles.

False Imprisonment... And Then Some

Assuming Shingles can prove that the police detention was unlawful -- that it violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizures -- he would need to prove that it was both without his consent and willful.

This is a pretty cut and dry case of no consent and willful detention, since the police physically handcuffed Shingles and allegedly forced him to dance prior to letting him go.

Although the Post reports that the cops did think his rap was "hot" and worthy of his release, this kind of humiliation could also potentially be grounds for an intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit.

The police didn't exactly make him dance -- like some inmates have been forced to -- but this kind of strange "Wild West sheriff" behavior by the NYPD, if true, is abominable and incredibly illegal.

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