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Barber charges false arrest over parking tickets Same officer arrested the plaintiff twice

A barber charged with interfering with police who were ticketing his customers during last year's ticket blitz has filed a false-arrest and imprisonment lawsuit against the city and the two officers.

Shawn Thompson, 36, said Tuesday that the officers arrested him after they spotted him giving paper and a pen to a patron parked outside his East Delavan Avenue barbershop so the patron could jot down the ticketing officer's name and badge number.

The charges against him were dismissed a month after his March 28 arrest, he said.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court, names Officers Milton J. Jeffries and Aaron Salter Jr.

Jeffries was suspended by the Police Department for 45 days in September for adding towing fees to 242 parking tickets he wrote, even though he never called for a tow truck.

Jeffries wrote several tickets with the bogus towing charges outside the barbershop at 295 E. Delavan Ave. around the time he and Salter arrested Thompson.

Thompson said he had an argument with Salter in May 2005 over a ticket the officer issued to him. Salter arrested Thompson that time, too, and that case also was dismissed.

"The only time I've ever been arrested was twice, by the same officer, over parking tickets, and both times the charges were dismissed," Thompson said.

Thompson attributed his March 2006 arrest to "retaliation" by Salter.

Neither officer could be reached to comment, and a mayoral spokesman said the city doesn't comment on lawsuits.

Thompson was told to stay inside his barbershop, Sean's House of Masters, according to Salter's police report.

"The defendant was told by officers to stay inside of 295 East Delavan, where he works as a barber, and was told by officers not to come outside and obstruct the officers who were writing tags," Salter wrote in the report.

Thompson was "shouting, 'Get their badge numbers and names, and give me your ticket. I'll have someone take care of it,' " according to Salter's report.

The officer wrote in his report that Thompson said he would call a City Court judge.

Thompson denied saying that.

He said he did not say anything to either officer or approach them, unlike his previous run-in with Salter about a year earlier.

Thompson said he left his shop to give the paper and pen to the mother of one of his customers. The mother was sitting in her car waiting for him to finish her son's haircut. The officers were about 200 to 300 yards from the barbershop ticketing other vehicles, he said.

The police had told the woman and others parked near the shop that they could not move their vehicles until the officers ticketed them, said Anthony L. Pendergrass, Thompson's lawyer.

"She wanted to move her vehicle, and they warned her she would be arrested if she did," Pendergrass said.

Thompson said his customers had previously complained to him that police officers were forbidding them to move their cars to the correct side of the street to avoid a ticket, even though the officers were ticketing other cars down the block and had not yet reached the customers' vehicles.

"A man in uniform identifying himself as a police officer named Jeffries entered into Mr. Thompson's shop and arrested Mr. Thompson for obstruction of governmental administration and harassment," according to the lawsuit.

The charges were dismissed after two court appearances.

The arrest -- in front of customers -- hurt Thompson's reputation, Pendergrass said.

Thompson, who is black, also said his civil rights were violated.

The lawsuit contends he was arrested "solely because of his race."

Both police officers are black.

"Here's why it's a black and white issue," Pendergrass said. "The city basically erupted when the police started their protest of the wage freeze by writing tickets. Elmwood business owners complained to City Hall, to the police and to the media. None of those folks, largely comprised of white residents and business owners, was arrested. You come over to East Delavan, and you have a business owner treated differently," he said.

e-mail: plakamp@buffnews.com

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