Jonathan Mercedes v. City of New York et. al. involves a false arrest under NY State Mental Hygiene Law Section 9.41. Jonathan Mercedes was arrested by police despite officers observing no action by Mr. Mercedes that indicated that he was a danger to himself or others. The NY State Mental Hygiene Law has received heightened public attention recently, following NYC Mayor Eric Adams' announcement that he intends to use it to forcibly hospitalize unhoused people.
This brief addresses the myriad problems of involving police in mental health crises, as well as the dangers of the court ignoring the explicit requirement outlined in Section 9.01 of NY State Mental Hygiene Law that clearly states that for the officer’s seizure to be justified, the person with mental illness must have first engaged in some overt act demonstrating that the person is a potential danger to themself or to others.