Party boat owner sues city for kicking him from Brooklyn berth over unsolved shooting
There’s no love between this boat and the city.
The owner of a party boat that caters to West Indian and Yemeni residents has filed a $20 million notice of claim against the city, accusing it of harassing his business and then terminating its contract for a berth in Brooklyn over a shooting his company had nothing to do with.
Dwayne Braithwaite, the owner of the Cpt. JP2 and the Nautical Empress, claims that he was constantly harassed by the NYPD and several city agencies after he refused to hire a private security group that was recommended by a cop from the 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park.
“I’m not playing with them and now everyone is accusing me of all of this wrongdoing,” Braithwaite, 47, told the Daily News Tuesday. “I was following all the rules and they totally kicked me out.”
“They did me wrong,” he said.
Braithwaite got permission to dock the Cpt. JP2 at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in May.
A few weeks later, a cop from the 72nd Precinct approached him and gave Braithwaite the name of a security company “that could assist,” the boat owner said. But Braithwaite never took him up on the offer.
Braithwaite’s attorney Eric Sanders said the referral was illegal — and was a thinly-veiled shakedown similar to one the commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct was recently accused of.
In that case, the owner of a Sunset Park nightspot called Club & Lust — which Sanders also represents — alleges that after three years of unwarranted and unnecessary “selective enforcement” based solely on the club’s black clientele, Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez, the commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct, went to the club owner with his hand out after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last September.
Gonzalez asked the club owner to pay for 11 round-trip tickets to Puerto Rico, at a cost of roughly $80,000, according to the court filing.
The club owner denied the request. As a result, the harassment escalated and the SLA pulled his liquor license, he claimed.
“This is a very direct link between corruption and the violation of department rules,” said Sanders. “(Gonzalez) did the exact same thing and this is the exact same precinct. My question is is what the police department is going to do about it.”
Gonzalez has denied the allegations.
At around the same time, officials from Hornblower Yacht Inc., a rival company that has a similar contract with the city, asked to use Braithwaite’s boat for a party.
The two collaborated on jobs, although their relationship was short lived and they parted ways.
That’s when the harassment ramped up, Braithwaite claims.
According to the notice of claim, Braithwaite “started receiving selective enforcement activities from various government agencies including the United States Coast Guard, the New York State Liquor Authority and the NYPD Harbor Unit and the 72nd Precinct.”
In July, the EDC summarily terminated its contract between Braithwaite and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. The contract for Braithwaite’s other vessel, which is currently berthed in Staten Island, is also under fire.
When Braithwaite pressed for a reason, he was told that it stemmed from a shooting that took place on May 25, when someone discharged a firearm near the corner of 58th St. and First Ave. No one was hit and no arrests have been made.
While the shooting took place near the 58th St. Pier, there is no evidence that his party boat was involved, Sanders said.
In a statement to The News, the EDC said it “stands by its determination, and we are confident the Court will agree with our decision, which was made in the best interest of the public.”
A city Law Department spokesman said “The termination of this contract is justified. We’re confident the court will agree.”