CONEY ISLAND — A Brooklyn furniture store owner says police wrongfully arrested him because they believed he was taking them for a ride after he reported his car was stolen when it really had been towed.
Gennadiy Kleyner, 64, is suing the NYPD and the city, claiming a detective's goodwill was gone in 60 seconds when he learned the Volkswagen Passat Kleyner reported stolen in Coney Island had turned up in an impound lot in another part of Brooklyn.
Kleyner's lawsuit, filed last month in Brooklyn Supreme Court, says the NYPD detective handcuffed him and accused him of lying about his Passat being stolen in order to get out of making monthly lease payments on his car.
"He finds it absolutely shocking. It's absurd," Kleyner's lawyer, Gennady Yankilevich, said.
Kleyner, of Sheepshead Bay, drove his car to his furniture store on March 10, 2014, and parked on Avenue Z near Coney Island Avenue. Later in the morning, he left his store to run an errand but his car had disappeared.
Kleyner had no idea what had happened to the Passat and had no reason to believe it was towed, his lawyer said.
"It was just a regular parking spot," Yankilevich said.
"All the other cars were still there. He was up to date with lease payments. He had no outstanding parking tickets. There was no reason for his car to be towed. So he assumed it was stolen."
Kleyner called 911 and police officers from the 60th Precinct responded to the scene. Later in the day, a precinct detective arrived and Kleyner filed out a stolen vehicle report, according to the lawsuit.
Eight days later, the company that originally leased Kleyner the Passat called him to say that his vehicle was at an impound lot in the 94th Precinct.
Kleyner didn't know why the lease company was notified, but went to the impound lot on March 19 to retrieve his wheels. The impound operators told him that the car had been towed from a Chase Bank parking lot in Coney Island, about a dozen blocks from where Kleyner said he had left the vehicle.
While at the lot, Kleyner called the 94th Precinct, which sent officers to meet him. He later went to the precinct "to fill out more forms, seemingly to allow the police records to reflect that the vehicle had been found," the lawsuit says.
Yankilevich said the tow pound operators were going to charge Kleyner about $600, but when an officer wrote a note explaining what happened, the operators dropped the amount to about $200.
Why the car was towed remained a head-scratcher to Kleyner.
After Kleyner got his car back, he spoke with the manager of the Chase Bank branch in Coney Island who told him he had no record of his car being reported to the tow company, Yankilevich said.
The ordeal over his car took another strange turn on April 15, the lawsuit says, when the detective who took the initial stolen vehicle report called Kleyner and asked him to come to the 61st Precinct stationhouse.
The next day Kleyner went to the stationhouse, "thinking that probably he will finally be given an explanation of why his vehicle was towed, or perhaps even given a refund for the erroneous towing and storage fees he paid," the lawsuit says.
But when Kleyner arrived, the detective immediately handcuffed him and accused him of making a false report to get out of making lease payments, the lawsuit says.
Yankilevich said police reached that conclusion because Kleyner notified the 94th Precinct — not the detective — that the car was found.
Kleyner was charged with offering a false instrument for filing and given a desk appearance ticket, according to the lawsuit.
But the police shifted their stance by the time Kleyner showed up for his first court appearance, the lawsuit says.
The criminal charge had been dropped. Instead he had been issued a traffic violation for driving with a suspended license.
Yankilevich said the traffic violation was because Kleyner had an unpaid ticket for talking on his cellphone while driving. He said his client didn't know the cellphone ticket was unpaid but owned up to that in court.
"Our basis for the suit was that he was arrested for one thing and handcuffed to a pipe, and ultimately that charge is not even brought to a judge," he said.
The city Law Department, which represents the NYPD in lawsuits, said in a statement, "We'll review the claims and investigate the facts once we're served."