Conflict in Borough Hall courtroom spills onto lawn

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A swarm of court officers descended upon and arrested two men Tuesday morning after a dispute in a Queens courtroom spilled onto the back lawn of Borough Hall, the brother of one of the men said.

Police would not comment on the incident and the Queens district attorney’s office said it was not aware of any arrests.

The melee occurred after a 23-year-old Bronx man, Starkim Allah Bey, appeared in civil court around 11 a.m. to answer a summons for allegedly selling compact discs illegally on Jamaica Avenue.

While waiting in the crowded courtroom in the basement of Borough Hall, Allah Bey lit a cigarette and police asked him to leave. He then asked a friend to give court officials an affidavit in response to the summons, which the officials would not accept, his brother, Sharif Mohammed Bey, told the TimesLedger.

Court officers then arrested a cousin accompanying Starkim, Khuldun Ash Shakir Bey, 30, of Jamaica, for allegedly refusing to follow their order to leave, the brother said.

“They said anyone who did not have a summons has to leave the courtroom,” Mohammed Bey said. “My cousin said ‘this is a public place, why can’t we stay?’ [and] they forcibly arrested him, restrained him.”

According to Mohammed Bey, his brother Starkim told their cousin Khuldun that they had the arresting officer’s shield number as the dispute with the court officers shifted outside to the back of Borough Hall.

Suddenly more than a dozen police watching from a distance rushed to the scene from all directions, tackled and handcuffed Starkim.

“They rushed him and arrested him just for making that statement,” Mohammed Bey said.

Mohammed Bey speculated that his brother and cousin may have been treated harshly because they were wearing red fez caps identifying them as Muslims. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Mohammed Bey had not been able to locate the two men.

Police quickly dispersed a crowd of onlookers, including Mohammed Bey, and refused to answer any questions.

“You saw what happened,” said one officer who would not give his name when asked to explain the incident to a reporter.

Minutes after the incident about 10 police officers in the Criminal Court building lobby on Queens Boulevard next to Borough Hall were discussing what happened but would not elaborate.

A sergeant referred questions about the incident to the captain of the court officers.

Reached later in the day, the captain, who declined to give her name, said she did not know of any arrests and had not heard about the incident.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey at or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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