A Brooklyn man was awarded nearly $1 million after he was falsely charged with DWI nearly three years ago after an officer ran a stop sign and slammed into the man's car, New York Daily News reported Friday.
What's the story?
A New York City police officer driving in a marked SUV hit Oliver Wiggins' car when the cop ran a stop sign in Brooklyn on April 19, 2015. Wiggins, who was given a breathalyzer test at the scene that showed no alcohol in his blood, was injured in the crash and transported to a hospital.
At the hospital, Wiggins volunteered to have blood tests run to detect alcohol or drugs in his system. Those tests also came back negative.
NYPD officer Justin Joseph arrested Wiggins and charged him with driving under the influence. Joseph's official report stated that he observed Wiggins swaying. He also reported that Wiggins had slurred speech, watery eyes and smelled of alcohol on his breath.
EMT and DWI technician reports also stated that Wiggins showed no signs of intoxication.
However, lawyer Scott Rynecki, who represented Wiggins, said his client is a teetotaler.
The charges were dismissed three months later.
In July 2015, Rynecki sent a letter to then-District Attorney Kenneth Thompson and requested an investigation into the officers' misconduct.
What problems did Wiggins incur because of the charges?
Wiggins's driver's license was suspended and he was stuck with the repair bill for his 2004 Nissan Maxima that his insurance company refused to pay because of the charges. Rynecki said Wiggins also needs surgery for "significant injuries" to his wrist.
Wiggins filed a lawsuit in the Brooklyn Supreme Court against the city of New York, Joseph, and three other officers who were involved.
Did the case go to trial?
No, it was settled before going to trial.
“Settling this case was in the best interest of the city,” a Law Department spokesman told the Daily News.
What happened to the cops involved?
The cops are still employed and have not faced any charges.
The incident inspired Wiggins, 33, to follow in his father's footsteps and become a correction officer.
“This situation really made him understand the power of the badge and that police have to be honest because that’s how an innocent man can face frivolously charges,” Rynecki said.