In April this year the 46-year-old Robert Hankins got pulled over near his home at Herkimer Street in Brooklyn. Mr. Hankins was just driving back home after work when a police officer named Sean Nurse ordered him to stop his vehicle and subsequently arrested him.
When the cops searched Mr. Hankins they discovered in his pockets a plastic bag full of white-colored pills. Officer Nurse was trained professionally in detecting and identifying illegal substances of this particular kind. After the discovery of the suspicious plastic bag Mr. Hankins was immediately handcuffed and arrested for possession of illegal substances. Then, he was sent first to 79th Precinct in Bedford Stuyvesant and later transferred to Brooklyn Central Booking.
As it turned out Mr. Hankins was indeed carrying a plastic bag full of pills but they were actually breath mints. He asked the police officers to sniff and taste the suspicious mints themselves but they refused to do so. While in Central Booking Mr. Hankins continued to insist that he was being arrested for possession of breath mints.
All in all, Mr. Hankins spent more than 24 hours in custody which caused him huge distress over a bag of mints. Eventually, after a couple of months and a few court appearances the criminal charges against Mr. Hankins were dropped by the prosecution.
Now Mr. Hankins is suing the NYPD, officer Nurse and his unnamed partner for illegal stop and search, unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution and, above all, denial of his constitutional rights.