Man Sues FDNY and NYPD Over Coerced Confession Following Acquittal On Arson and Murder Charges

A man who spent five years in prison awaiting trial on arson and murder charges is suing the city of New York, three fire marshals, four police detectives and a police sergeant who he claims illegally coerced a false confession from him. Christopher Moore was acquitted December 20, 2017 of all charges related to a fatal fire on October 7, 2012 at 295 East 98th Street in Brooklyn.

Moore claims that he was interrogated for 27 hours by a tag-team of investigators, deprived of sleep, and promised if he just admitted he started the fire accidentally he would be free to go and see his dying mother. Instead he was charged with two counts of murder and one count of arson. Shelley Kinley, 55, suffered a cardiac arrest at the fire and died the following day.

The New York Daily News quoted Moore’s defense attorney, Damien Brown, as saying: “It was horrible. It’s the stuff you read about from down south 30 years ago.”

From the complaint:

  • Defendants, including defendants Parks, Orlando, Munoz, Luc, Triscitti, Kanelopoulos and Hansen, lied to Mr. Moore, falsely telling him that if he told defendants that he started the fire by accident, he would be free to leave and see his mother before she died, because accidental fires are not considered crimes and that they were only holding him because they could not close their case until someone told them how it started.
  • Defendants went so far as to tell Mr. Moore that if he was ever charged, defendants would testify in court to protect him and would ensure that he would never be convicted or go to prison.
  • Defendants Parks, Orlando and Munoz then left the interrogation room and returned at approximately 5: 10 a.m. that same morning. Defendants Parks, Orlando and Munoz then proceeded to further illegally question Mr. Moore about the incident, to which Mr. Moore, once again, denied any knowledge regarding the origins of the fire.
  • After approximately one (1) hour of interrogation, defendants left the room.
  • Defendants Parks, Orlando and Munoz, also at approximately 5:10 a.m. to 6:10 a.m. that morning, and while inside of the interrogation room with Mr. Moore, proceeded to place a call on speaker to his deathly ill mother to further coerce Mr. Moore into falsely admitting to a crime that defendants knew he did not commit. Despite this extremely despicable, underhanded and coercive tactic, Mr. Moore told the truth about what he knew about the incident, which was the same truth he had already told defendants multiple times — that he was not present when the fire began and had no idea how it started.
  • Defendants Parks, Orlando and Munoz then left Mr. Moore trapped in the interrogation room and, presumably, went home to sleep.
  • About six (6) hours later, at approximately 11 :00 a.m., two new detectives, defendants Luc and Triscritti, entered the interrogation room, where Mr. Moore was being illegally detained and questioned without his requested attorney. At approximately 12:10 p.m., defendants Luc and Triscitti obtained, through undue duress and coercion, false verbal and written statements from Mr. Moore, statements that defendants knew to be untrue and that that they knew to be procured via illegal means.
  • Later that day, at approximately 3:44 p.m., defendants Luc and Orlando were present while Mr. Moore, while under extreme duress, was further coerced into giving a videotaped statement that defendants knew to be false and obtained in contravention of the laws of the United States and the State ofNew York.
  • Defendants Kanelopoulos and Hansen, at approximately 6:30 p.m., continued to illegally interrogate Mr. Moore without his requested attorney present. Through their use of illegal methods, defendants coerced Mr. Moore into giving yet another false written statement that they knew to be untrue and to be the product of their extrajudicial, bordering on torturous, tactics.
  • Defendants Orlando and Kanelopoulos, at approximately 11 :00 p.m. that same day, conducted yet another unlawful interrogation of Mr. Moore. Defendants, once again, obtained a false confession from a person they knew to be innocent and who only wanted to go see his mother before she passed.
  • Defendants, including defendants Parks, Orlando, Munoz, Luc, Triscitti, Kanelopoulos and Hansen, coerced Mr. Moore into falsely admitting that he accidentally started the fire and into writing and signing similarly false statements.
  • Defendants, including defendants Parks, Orlando, Munoz, Luc, Triscitti, Kanelopoulos and Hansen, subjected Mr. Moore to sleep deprivation, lies, phone calls from his dying mother, manipulation from various detectives and fire marshals who repeatedly lied, telling Mr. Moore that ifhe tells them he started the fire by accident, he will go free and see his mother before she passes.
  • All of which amount to a serious and gross deviation from proper police conduct and procedure.
  • Instead of going free, Mr. Moore was taken to Kings County Central Booking, where he awaited arraignment on criminal charges for crimes that he did not commit.
  • Moore’s mother, unfortunately, passed away the next week without ever see her son again, but with the knowledge that her son was a confessed murderer, who was probably going away for a long time.

Moore filed suit in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The 25-page complaint includes ten counts:

  1. False Arrest and False Imprisonment Under New York State Law
  2. False Arrest and False Imprisonment Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Against Individual Defendants
  3. Assault and Battery Under New York State Law
  4. Malicious Prosecution Under New York State Law
  5. Malicious Prosecution Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Against Individual Defendants
  6. Failure to Intervene Under New York State Law
  7. Failure to Intervene Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Against Individual Defendants
  8. Malicious Abuse of Process Under New York State Law
  9. Malicious Abuse of Process Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Against Individual Defendants
  10. Negligent Hiring, Retention and Supervision Under New York State Law

Here is a copy of the complaint: Moore v New York

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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