Legal Aid Society


LAS Calls for Firing of NYPD Officers Involved in Marijuana Planting Scheme

The Legal Aid Society called on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to fire officers Kyle Erickson and Elmer Pastran following a report in The Intercept of a traffic stop in March 2018, during which these officers appeared to plant marijuana in a car to justify an otherwise entirely unlawful stop-and-search. The report includes body camera footage from one of the officers.

Jason Serranos, the victim of the officer’s misconduct, was unaware of the body camera video and ended up taking a plea deal to avoid jail time.

“The court put him in the position of having to make that choice of whether he was going to continue to fight charges that he knew he was innocent of, or whether liberty was more important to him,” said Chris Pisciotta, Attorney-in-Charge of the Staten Island Trial Office at The Legal Aid Society.

“This is something that with our bail reform laws would not have happened,” Pisciotta continued. “And even under the old law, a judge would have been extremely reluctant to ever set bail where there was actual video proof that the person was innocent. There is a push right now to try to repeal the very laws that would have protected Jason had they been available. If we repeal the discovery laws and push back on what has to be turned over and when it has to be turned over, and if we expand when judges can set bail again, there are going to be more Jason Serranos. And we’re going to be right back where we were.”