Unicyclist's suit falls flat in court as judge scoffs at idea constitutional rights were violated
Kyle Peterson shows off some of his tricks on the Coney Island boardwalk.
By John Marzulli DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
May 19th 2011
A Brooklyn federal judge has let the air out of a circus performer's claims he was falsely arrested for riding his unicycle on a Brooklyn sidewalk.
Judge Brian Cogan acknowledged the law prohibiting two- and three-wheeled bikes on the sidewalk doesn't cover unicycles, but scoffed at Kyle Peterson's lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights were violated."I expressed some skepticism that a statute originally enacted to protect African-Americans from the most heinous deprivations of life and liberty in the Reconstruction era had devolved into permitting circus performers to recover money ... for having wrongfully received two minor summonses," Cogan wrote yesterday.
Peterson filed a $3 million suit after he was ticketed by cops in 2007 and 2011 for riding on the sidewalk. The tickets were eventually dismissed.Cogan said the cops "mistakenly but reasonably" thought he was breaking the law.
The cops are entitled to qualified immunity from being sued because they "mistakenly [but reasonably] thought plaintiff violated the law."
He also suggested Peterson may have been "emboldened" to ride on the sidewalk after the first summons was dismissed.Lawyer Paul Hale says he's not deterred by the decision. "I will continue to fight for the rights of all New Yorkers, whether they are unicyclists, jugglers or sword swallowers," Hale said.