20 Aug 2014
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Arrested Boaters: Cops Had No Business There

David A. Fink and his longtime fiance Simon V. Kinsella said that they were well within their right to protest when they were picked up outside a Mitt Romney fundraiser.

Arrested Boaters: Cops Had No Business There

The two Wainscott men who were claim police assaulted them and violated their constitutional rights and local laws.

David A. Fink and his longtime fiance Simon V. Kinsella said in a statement released Monday that they were well within their right to protest when they were taken in.

The couple was attempting to exercise their rights "under the First Amendment to freedom of speech while scrupulously avoiding the shoreline and any possible perception they were seeking to enter into East Hampton Village or Mr. Perelman’s property."

Kinsella was sailing a 12.5-foot sailboat when Police Sgt. Erickson, he said, "rammed his motorboat into the sailboat, boarded without permission or authorization and assaulted and arrested him."

Police said that the sailboat struck the police boat after Kinsella and Fink were warned not to pass a police line set up to keep boaters away from Perlmen's property.

The couple said the village police were actually outside their jurisdictional boundary at the time of the arrests, which they believe break "centuries-old rules of navigation," laid out in the Dongan Patent of 1686, which gives the East Hampton Town Trustees ownership over ocean beaches and certain open waters. The couple claim Village Administrator Larry Cantwell has confirmed that the police had no jurisdiction over those waters.

But, Cantwell said he didn't give any legal opinion about the arrest. He explained that Fink filed a request on Monday morning under the Freedom of Information Law for certain documents, which related to whether the police have an inter-jurisdictional agreement with the East Hampton Town Trustees for enforcement of areas under owned by the trustees.

"We reviewed those and our response was, 'In response to your FOIL request, no record has been found for the documents requested,'" Cantwell said.

"From the village's perspective, there's a judicial process," he said, adding that any response will be done through the court system, not through press releases.

Village police routinely patrol trustee-owned beaches and waterways, under Town Code. The village police sergeant was on board a town harbormaster boat. Under Criminal Procedure Law, police officer can make a misdemeanor arrest with probable cause anywhere in the state regardless of jurisdiction.

According to police, Fink jumped out of the sailboat after police boarded and swam ashore to the 57-acre estate, known as "The Creeks," where he was apprehended.

But, Fink, who is 64, said he was far from Perelmen's shoreline when officers assaulted him, handcuffed him, forced his head underwater and dragged him ashore.

He said he suffers from ventricular arrhythmia and complained of the condition when taken to police headquarters. Emergency medical technicians were called to the station. According to the pair, EMS personnel found Fink "was suffering from blood pressure so high that the EMS questioned the accuracy of its diagnostic equipment, brought in other diagnostic equipment and confirmed that Mr. Fink’s blood pressure exceeded 200." However, they said Village Police Officer Eben Ball refused Fink’s request to go with Kinsella to Southampton Hospital for emergency treatment.

Kinsella and Fink said they were held in "solitary confinement for several hours while, according to EHVPD Officer Ball, the EHVPD was trying to figure out what law, if any, Mr. Kinsella and Mr. Fink had allegedly broken."

They were charged with obstruction of governmental administration in the second degree, which is a misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct, a violation. Fink was additionally charged with resisting arrest, also a misdemeanor.

The men say the obstruction charge was misused, as they never intimidated police, part of proof required by the statute.

"Apparently, East Hampton Village — which once prosecuted Jerry Della Femina for displaying pumpkins outdoors in October — now considers it illegal to sail or swim in public waters outside the Village on a sunny Sunday in July, at least while flying the Rainbow Flag," the couple said.

Chief Jerry Larsen, who was in uniform on duty at the Perelman estate on Sunday, said he would not discuss the arrests further. "This will all be handled in court," he said on Monday.

He denied Kinsella and Fink's accusation that he was "sipping Mr. Perelman’s Champagne" during the arrests.

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