In 1983, an incident involving James and two New York City police officers left an indelible mark on James' life. One morning, he was in front of his house sitting in his mother's car. Suddenly, two white police officers approached, put guns to his head and accused him of stealing the car. While still pointing guns at his face, the officers dragged James from the car and repeatedly slammed his head and body against the car. Although his mother tried telling the officers they were making a terrible mistake, the officers ignored her pleas and continued their malicious attack. James was handcuffed behind his back and taken to the police station, where he was denied his freedom and held against his will. No charges were ever brought by the police. In addition to sustaining several bruises as a result of being beaten by the officers, James also suffered the humiliation of being falsely arrested and assaulted in front of his home, and in the presence of his neighbors.

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