Cop's 'Clearly Inappropriate' Conduct Is No Crime, Judge Says

, New York Law Journal

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A New York City police officer's unauthorized surreptitious filming of an arrestee's backside was "certainly inappropriate" but did not amount to official misconduct, said a judge as he dismissed the indictment.

Noting that the crime of official misconduct required the showing that a public servant intended to receive a benefit, Acting Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett (See Profile) said in People v. Becker, 2012/13, "The court does not choose to characterize an act designed to provide a private satisfaction, undisclosed to the object of desire, to constitute a benefit."

But the judge blasted officer Carlos Becker before tossing the criminal case, calling his filming "not only insulting, demeaning and disrespectful to [Erica] Noonan, but also wholly unworthy of a New York City police officer."

He said Becker's "serious errors of judgment" were "more appropriately addressed in a disciplinary forum."

The ruling was signed on Nov. 3 and released to the parties on Dec. 3.

The case arose from Becker's March 2013 arrest of Noonan for drunken driving. While putting Noonan in the backseat of his vehicle, Becker allegedly touched her breast and she objected. At the precinct, Becker then allegedly commented on Noonan's physique and gave her his telephone number.

At the precinct, Becker used his cellphone to take a one-minute, 14-second video of her, with her hands handcuffed behind her body. She was clothed in an outer garment, sweater and black skin-tight pants.

For about 10 seconds, the video "zooms in on her lower torso and buttocks," said Barrett.

She was arraigned later that day and released on her own recognizance. The case is still pending, according to the Bronx District Attorney's office.

Days later, Noonan texted Becker and for the next 10 days, the pair were in regular contact via text messages and cellphone.

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