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Man's Guilty Plea Tossed Out By Judge After Bodycam Video Shows NYPD Cop Planting Drugs

Man's Guilty Plea Tossed Out By Judge After Bodycam Video Shows NYPD Cop Planting Drugs
The Legal Aid Society/YouTube

A New York man who pleaded guilty to drug charges following a 2018 arrest has had his plea tossed out by a judge after bodycam footage revealed an NYPD officer planted drugs in the car in which he was pulled over.

Defendant Jason Serrano was charged with drug possession, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration following an NYPD traffic stop. He pleaded guilty to the resisting arrest charge in order to avoid going to the notorious Rikers Island prison.

At the time of his plea in 2018, Serrano was unaware of the bodycam footage, which shows officer Kyle Erickson sprinkling what appears to be marijuana into the car's cupholder.

See the moment below at the 7:30 mark.

Records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by New York NPR station WNYC and Gothamist revealed Erickson had been disciplined twice by the NYPD in 2018 and had a history of discrepancies in drug arrests he performed. These include an incident in which he was caught planting drugs on a Black man he'd pulled over that same year.

The Staten Island District Attorney's Office chose not to turn those records over to Serrano's attorney, Marion Elizabeth Campbell of the Legal Aid Society, and only gave Campbell the bodycam footage after Serrano had already pleaded guilty.

Speaking to media, Campbell said she was "thrilled" Judge Tamiko Amaker finally did the right thing.

"We're thrilled that the court has finally recognized that Jason Serrano's rights were violated when he was arrested, when evidence was planted on him, and then when he was prosecuted without disclosure of any of that information."
"It's the least they could do. And what they should really do, and what might actually restore some faith in the system, is prosecute Erickson and Pastran."

On Twitter, people were appalled by the miscarriage of justice Serrano faced.

The NYPD has not responded to media inquiries about the Serrano case, but police department records obtained by Gothamist show no record of Erickson.

Pastran has been placed on military or extended leave.