The cop who busted a Brooklyn electrician for carrying an illegal knife may have been speaking with a forked tongue.
Bernard Perez has a $57,500 settlement from the city to support his argument that he was carrying a utility knife to strip insulation off wiring — not an illegal gravity knife as Officer Justin Delmonico had claimed.
Perez, 48, spent two days in jail and then three follow-up trips to court culminating in a fateful meeting in an assistant district attorney’s office, where Delmonico was asked repeatedly to demonstrate how the knife blade flicked open — and couldn’t.
According to the state Penal Law, a gravity knife is “any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath … by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force.”
After Delmonico’s demonstration gone wrong, the prosecutor told the judge they were sticking a fork in the criminal case.
“We are satisfied that the knife is not in fact a gravity knife,” the prosecutor said, and moved to dismiss the charge against Perez, according to papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
But the prosecutor’s concession was not good enough for city lawyer Jenny Weng, who was fighting Perez’s lawsuit.
“The city’s lawyer actually claimed with a straight face that the word ‘is’ doesn’t mean ‘is,’ ” Perez’s lawyer Joel Berger told the Daily News.
“She argued that the cop believed it was a gravity knife at the time he seized it, but it was no longer functioning as a gravity knife at the time of the demonstration in the DA’s office four months later,” Berger said.
The city relented, signing off on the $57,500 deal on Aug. 21.
A Law Department spokesman said the settlement was in the best interest of the city.
Perez’s nightmare began last September when he was pulled over for a broken taillight in East New York, Brooklyn, by Delmonico and his partner Samuel Carey, court papers state.
The cops suspected Perez might be wanted on a warrant, and hauled him into the stationhouse.
When they figured out that the 5-foot-9 motorist was not the 6-foot-3 fugitive, the cop arrested Perez for the “gravity knife.”
Perez said he was stunned.
“I would have accepted an apology at that point, but they put a false charge on me and that hurt,” Perez said Thursday. “I think he just wanted to make an arrest after they found out I did not have a warrant.”
Last month, the city settled another suit involving Delmonico for $120,000 in which he was accused of falsely arresting a man who laughed at the cop after a perpetrator had outrun him, according to lawyer Brett Klein.
The settlement included a second false arrest claim that did not involve Delmonico.
John Marzulli, “EXCLUSIVE: NYC pays $57G to electrician after cop wrongfully arrested him for utility knife”, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, Friday, August 28, 2015, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-city-pays-575g-gravity-knife-goof-article-1.2339973?utm_content=buffer7dc64&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=NYDailyNewsTw