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VIDEO: Photographer Arrested for 2-Finger Ring Police Say is Brass Knuckles

By Heather Holland | December 31, 2014 7:27am
  Andre Perry, 32, was arrested in Union Square subway station for wearing a two-finger ring.
Andre Perry
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UNION SQUARE — It's a crime of fashion.

A Brooklyn photographer was arrested for weapons possession in the Union Square subway station for sporting a two-finger ring that investigators said was a set of brass knuckles, court documents say.

And Andre Perry, a 32-year-old Bed-Stuy resident and commercial photographer who shot ads for Reebok, Brooklyn Circus and Nordstrom Men's, says undercover investigators railroaded him by using a hypothetical statement — that he "could" hurt someone with the ring — against him.

Rings being considered weapons made headlines in 2012 when rapper 2 Chainz was arrested at LaGuardia Airport for a four-finger ring that police considered a weapon. The charge was later changed to a violation and the case was sealed.

Andre Perry Films His Arrest
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Andre Perry

Perry was near the stairs leading to the N/Q/R platform on Nov. 19 when the officers, including one who has a suit pending against him for another weapons arrest case, stopped him and began questioning him about the ring.

Perry, who was on his way to his office in SoHo, said he tried to explain that the $30 Dallas & Dynasty ring, which he bought at a Williamsburg flea market, was a fashion accessory.

But the officers said the ring was equivalent to "brass knuckles" and arrested him just before 2:30 p.m., records show. 

"The officer approached me as if I was a threat to society," an outraged Perry told DNAinfo New York. 

"It made me very upset when I was being held in jail. I was sitting next to people who actually committed crimes. I bought this ring with the intent of wearing it as jewelry. I've been wearing it for over a year, and never had a problem."

Perry used his phone to record NYPD Officer Jonathan Correa confiscate the ring and arrest him.

Just before Perry started filming, Correa asked him if he knew that the ring could hurt someone, and Perry responded, "Yes, but I can also hurt someone with my hand, or just my fist,'" Perry told DNAinfo.

Perry was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, one for having the ring and the other for "intent to use it unlawfully against another," according to the criminal complaint from the Manhattan District Attorney's office. 

The two-sentence criminal complaint quotes Correa as saying, "When I asked the defendant [Perry] about the metal knuckles, he said in substance, 'I know I could hurt someone with it.'"

Perry was released without bail and is planning to hire criminal defense attorney Mark Bederow before his next court date on Jan. 13, 2015.

Bederow said there is no clear legal definition of brass knuckles, but it should not include rings like the one Perry was wearing.

"A fashionable person wearing a two-finger flat, gold ring marketed and sold as legitimate jewelry, and worn exclusively as such, should not be treated as a criminal accused of being in possession of a weapon," Bederow told DNAinfo.

"A case involving the legitimate possession of jewelry, which arguably looks like metal knuckles, screams out for the use of prosecutorial discretion and the dismissal of all criminal charges."

The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment, and the Manhattan District Attorney declined to comment.

Dallas & Dynasty, which sells many one- and two-finger rings, did not respond to a request for comment.

This isn't the first time Correa, who won a physical fitness award when he graduated from the Police Academy in 2010, was accused of making an inappropriate weapons possession arrest. 

Correa and the NYPD were sued in federal court in October by Joseph Cracco, who was arrested by Correa one year earlier for allegedly carrying a gravity knife.

Cracco, a chef who said his folding knife was legal and he used it to open boxes, claims Correa unlawfully arrested him on criminal possession of a weapon charges in the subway at Grand Central on Oct. 18, 2013.

"I was treated as a criminal for having an ordinary pocket knife that I used in my job as a chef," Cracco said in an email to DNAinfo. "Officer Correa tried very hard several times to flick the knife open by centrifugal force so that he could call it a gravity knife and charge me with a crime. It took him half a dozen tries before the knife would open that way."

Cracco fought the charges in criminal court but wound up pleading guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct in July 2014 to avoid the ongoing legal costs, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is ongoing. Correa could not immediately be reached for comment and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association did not immediately comment. The city Law Department, which handles cases against the city, did not immediately comment.

Perry, who is represented by the Legal Aid Society, is still fighting his criminal case but is also considering filing a federal lawsuit. He initially tried to raise $6,000 on Kickstarter to help him hire a private criminal defense lawyer, but he wasn't able to raise enough so he's planning to pay for the legal fees himself. If prosecutors push ahead with the charges, Perry plans to sue the city, he said.

“The end goal is for police officers to think twice before making an arrest,” Perry said. “Whether they’re white or black, I really want them to use discernment.”

Perry was previously arrested in Cobble Hill last March for trying to walk out of an Urban Outfitters at 166 Atlantic Ave. with a pair of camp socks without paying for them. He was charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property and received a desk appearance ticket, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. He is due back in court in January.

“I took something that wasn't mine," Perry said. "I'm willing to admit when I make a bad decision, but I really got arrested for wearing a ring?"