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CCRB Probes Cops’ Detention of Brooklyn Kids on Halloween

Court Street
Court Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
Photo: Gabriel Sandoval /THE CITY

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The Civilian Complaint Review Board is investigating a Halloween incident in which cops detained three black children and interrogated them over a cellphone robbery.

“We have received a complaint and are investigating this incident,” said Ethan Teicher, a spokesperson for the board, an independent agency that probes police misconduct.

He declined to specify the claims alleged, citing a state civil rights law that prevents the public from viewing the personnel files of cops.

The CCRB only starts an investigation after receiving a formal complaint from someone who has personal knowledge of alleged misconduct by cops.

The Halloween incident unfolded around 8:30 p.m. when a group of about 15 kids trick-or-treating in Cobble Hill was swarmed by uniformed and undercover cops who pulled their guns, multiple witnesses told THE CITY last week. Police officers detained three boys — ages 12, 14 and 15 — and took them to the 76th Precinct.

A Mother’s tears

Police released the youths — who were grilled about an attack on a teen whose phone was taken in nearby Carroll Park — to their worried parents after midnight.

The trio’s parents said they weren’t notified by the police about the episode. Instead, they said they heard about the boys being taken to the Union Street precinct house from people at the scene.

Oumou Ballo, mother of Modibo, a 14-year-old who was questioned by police but not detained, said she started crying when she received a phone call from her 9-year-old daughter, who’d witnessed the arrests while trick-or-tricking nearby with friends.

Ballo called CCRB probe a good idea.

“This investigation will help more parents be more aware and protective of their kids,” Ballo said in Bambara — the national language of Mali — through an interpreter, her 17-year-old daughter Aichata.

“Next time they travel,” the mother added, “they will be with a guardian, so that everything will be under control.”

Conflicting Reports

Gothamist reported that parents left the precinct without paperwork indicating that the boys had been charged with any offense — and that officers told parents there were no charges.

In a statement to THE CITY last week, the NYPD had said it charged the boys as juveniles with “obstructing governmental administration,” a misdemeanor. The NYPD insisted “family notification were made.”

A black car going against traffic on one-way Court Street, with emergency lights flashing, hit a boy who apparently was able to run off, two witnesses previously told THE CITY.

An NYPD statement provided to a witness, journalist Eric Umansky, said that an “unknown male who had fled the scene ran across the hood of a stationary police car,” but was never found.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The investigation follows last week’s election, in which voters passed a City Charter revision to give the CCRB more muscle — to the dismay of the police unions.

Changes, to go into effect at various points next year, include expanding the board to 15 members from 13, and allowing the chair to issue subpoenas. That would make it easier for the CCRB to obtain video footage from surveillance cameras near the location of alleged police misconduct, for example.

The CCRB also will now be able to investigate and recommend discipline in cases where a cop allegedly lies.

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