By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Occupy Wall Street protesters on Monday sued the New York police for false arrest and excessive force arising from an incident at a Citibank branch in downtown Manhattan.
Heather Carpenter, a 23-year-old student, and her fiance, Julio Jose Jimenez-Artunduaga, a Colombian immigrant, who were charged with trespass and resisting arrest on October 15, filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the New York Police Department.
The charges against Jimenez-Artunduaga were dismissed Monday at the request of prosecutors and the Manhattan district attorney's office has indicated it will drop its case against Carpenter next month, her lawyer, Ronald Kuby, said.
According to the lawsuit, Carpenter had marched with other demonstrators to the bank to close her account to protest what they call predatory lending and unfair banking fees.
Outside the Manhattan federal courthouse Monday, Carpenter described how she closed her account with a teller while about 20 protesters held what they called a "teach-in" in the branch, describing their experiences with the bank.
After an employee asked the protesters to leave, police closed the doors and began arresting those inside. Carpenter had left the bank but was restrained outside by an undercover officer who had posed as a protester and "dragged" back into the bank, Kuby said.
Jimenez-Artunduaga was also arrested outside, Kuby said, and brought back into the bank. Both suffered minor injuries after being handled roughly, the lawsuit alleges.
Police department chief spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement that the pair were seen 'disrupting business inside the bank, and then slipping outside as arrests were under way, claiming falsely they were not engaged in the disruption."
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by David Storey)