Jason Serrano was charged with drug possession, resisting arrest, and obstructing governmental administration after police allegedly found marijuana in his car. Gothamist now reports Judge Tamiko Amaker vacated the conviction due to body camera footage that appears to show Officer Kyle Erickson planting weed in a car Serrano’s friend was driving.
Three months after Serrano was arrested, he pled guilty to resisting arrest because he didn’t want to go to Rikers Island. At the time, he didn’t know about the body camera footage, which his lawyers didn’t see until months later. Additionally, the judge referenced arresting officers Erickson and Elmer Pastran’s disciplinary records in her decision.
“However, this court finds that the body-worn camera footage, taken with the officers’ disciplinary files, demonstrate that the defendant may have been searched and seized in violation of his constitutional rights,” Amaker wrote. “Accordingly, the defendant’s motion to vacate his conviction pursuant to CPL 440.10(1)(h) is granted.”
Erickson—who allegedly placed marijuana in the car’s cup holder—was once disciplined two times in the same year for inconsistencies on invoices for drug seizures, which was also unknown to Serrano’s lawyers. Erickson has in fact planted drugs on someone before—in February 2018, bodycam footage showed him placing drugs in Lasou Kuyateh’s car. Kuyateh was jailed for two weeks, with his charges ultimately dropped.
“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,” said Marion Elizabeth Campbell, one of Serrano’s attorneys at the Legal Aid Society.
At this point, it doesn’t appear the Staten Island District Attorney will bring charges against the two officers. It’s also unclear what their employment status is with the NYPD.