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Charges dropped against bodega worker in undercover case

April 25, 2012 3:52:32 PM PDT
Usually bodegas have security cameras with multiple angles so cops can catch the people who rob them.

In this case, the surveillance video actually catches the cops busting bodega worker Ismael Duran.

"The arrest they made was illegal because I asked for ID," Ismael Duran said.

The incident happened 2 weeks ago in Brownsville at a mini-mart on East New York Avenue. An 18-year-old undercover auxiliary cop goes up to the counter and tries to buy alcohol. Duran is behind the counter and demands an ID. He even checks the teen's age with a calculator and refuses to serve him.

"This is caught on tape and the pictures are very, very clear," Fernando Mateo of the Bodega Workers Association said.

You then see the auxiliary cop get on his cell phone and another man in a white cap, who is 51 years old. He buys the alcohol. You see the auxiliary cop walk out with nothing, and moments later he gets the alcohol from the other man outside. Uniformed officers move in anyway, patting-down Mr. Duran and arresting him.

Duran says he knows the man in the white cap from the neighborhood, but had no way of knowing the man would hand off the alcohol to the teenager.

"I would've never suspected that would've happened," Duran said.

"They violated his civil rights. They lied in court to make an arrest," Mateo said.

Bodega workers say they fear this has happened before. In fact, the bodega association told Eyewitness News that they have gotten dozens of complaints like this one involving the use of auxiliary cops.

The bodega worker was fined $120, but the Brooklyn District Attorney is dropping the charge. A broader investigation is underway.

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