New York City Police Department corruption and misconduct
- 1 Knapp Commission
- 2 Incidents
- 2.1 Frank Lino arrest
- 2.2 Clifford Glover shooting
- 2.3 Randolph Evans shooting
- 2.4 Michael Stewart chokehold
- 2.5 Eleanor Bumpurs shooting
- 2.6 Mark Davidson stun gun incident
- 2.7 Edmund Perry shooting
- 2.8 Tompkins Square Park Riot
- 2.9 Anthony Baez death
- 2.10 Abner Louima sodomy
- 2.11 Amadou Diallo death
- 2.12 Patrick Dorismond
- 2.13 Ousmane Zongo death
- 2.14 Mafia cops
- 2.15 Timothy Stansbury death
- 2.16 Flushing brothels
- 2.17 Sean Bell shooting incident
- 2.18 Kidnapping of drug dealer
- 2.19 NYPD subway sodomy scandal
- 2.20 Retaliation against Adrian Schoolcraft
- 2.21 Asthma death incident
- 2.22 NYPD "rape cops" scandal
- 2.23 2011 ticket fixing scandal
- 2.24 Paid Detail Unit
- 2.25 Muslim surveillance controversy
- 2.26 Michael Premo case
- 2.27 Kyam Livingston death
- 2.28 Alexian Lien beating
- 2.29 Death of Eric Garner
- 3 Rigging of evidence to secure convictions
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
In 1971, police officer Frank Serpico, Lt. David Durk, and other officers, testified before the Knapp Commission about the corruption they witnessed in the department. The Commission's findings led to reforms within the department, developed by Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy. Reforms included decentralizing corruption control, within Field Investigative Units, which were intended to be closer and more in touch with the streets where the problems were. There have been other commissions investigating the NYPD before and after the Knapp Commission, including 1994's Mollen Commission, which documented widespread police abuse during the late 1980s and early 1990s .
Incidents involving allegations of police misconduct within the NYPD:
Frank Lino arrest
In 1962, the Bonanno crime family mobster Frank Lino was arrested for his alleged involvement in the shootings of two Brooklyn police detectives. The detectives, aged 28 and 56, were shot dead during a holdup of a tobacco store in Gravesend, Brooklyn, where Lino and two others netted $5,000. Lino was charged with the murders after supplying a getaway vehicle for one of the "stick-up men" so that he could then flee to Chicago. Lino was one of the five men charged after being taken to the 66th Precinct for an interrogation. During Lino's interrogation, he claimed that police officers drove staples into his hands and a broomstick up his rectum. He alleged that the abuse resulted in a broken leg and arm. Lino was later released with three years probation after he threatened to sue the city for police brutality. He also claimed that the uncontrollable blinking of his eyes was a direct result of the alleged beating.
Clifford Glover shooting
On April 28, 1973, Officer Thomas Shea shot 10-year old Clifford Glover while in South Jamaica, Queens, thinking Clifford had a gun. On June 12, 1974, Shea was acquitted of wrongdoing by 11 white and one black jurors but was fired from the NYPD that year.
Randolph Evans shooting
On Thanksgiving Day (November 25), 1976, Officer Robert Torsney shot Randolph Evans to death while responding to a call at Evans's Brooklyn housing project home. Torsney was found not guilty by insanity defense (Automatism of Penfield epilepsy) and was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Brooklyn until December 20, 1978 when state reviewers declared him no longer a threat to himself or society and released him.
Michael Stewart chokehold
On September 15, 1983, Michael Jerome Stewart was arrested for spray painting graffiti on a wall of Manhattan's First Avenue station. He was violent with the officers, ran to the street and became unconscious and died on September 28, 1983. In October 1983, the case went before a grand jury in Manhattan, but was dismissed 7 months later because one of the jurors started private investigations on the case. In February 1984, a second grand jury indicted three officers with criminally negligent homicide, assault and perjury, while three other officers were charged with perjury and jury selection started in June 1985. On November 24, 1985, all six of the indicted officers were acquitted by a jury. In 1987, the eleven involved officers and the MTA were sued for $40 million. In August 1990, Michael's parents and siblings settled out of court for $1.7 million.
Eleanor Bumpurs shooting
On October 29, 1984, without any advance notice police used a battering ram to gain entrance to Bumpurs' public housing apartment where she lived alone. Adult daughters wanted her to be hospitalized because she was schizophrenic with hallucinations. Although NYPD procedure required a City psychiatrist to be called in a case of involuntary hospitalization, none was summoned to the scene. Bumpers was also being evicted supposedly for nonpayment of rent. Although NYPD procedure required a City marshal to be present and restricted the role of police to protecting the marshal and the marshal's assistants, no marshal was summoned to the scene. It later turned out that she had paid her rent as usual but had not been informed of a recent rent increase. When police broke down the door without first identifying themselves, the elderly obese woman was standing at the far end of a hallway with a kitchen knife in her raised hand. Officer Stephen Sullivan fired two shots from his 12-gauge single barreled shotgun, sending one pellet into Bumpers' hand and nine other pellets into her chest, killing her. Sullivan was tried and acquitted in 1987. In 1990, the city ended the legal proceedings by agreeing to pay $200,000 to Bumpurs family estate.
Mark Davidson stun gun incident
On April 17, 1985, Mark Davidson was arrested by undercover detectives on charges of drug dealing and taken to NYPD's 106th precinct in Ozone Park, Queens, where he was beaten and tortured with a stun gun and threatened with torture on his genitals into making a false confession. On May 3, 1986, Sgt. Richard Pike, Jeffrey Gilbert and Loren MacLary were each convicted of assault and were sentenced to four to six years.
Edmund Perry shooting
On June 12, 1985, Edmund Perry returned to the city after graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire when Edmund and his brother, Jonah, were walking in Morningside Park where they encountered Lee Van Houten, an undercover plainclothes detective on auto burglary patrol. Edmund tried to rob Van Houten by grabbing his neck and Van Houten fell to the ground and fired three shots, at least one in Edmund's stomach, killing him immediately. About 23 witnesses supported Van Houten's version of the incident, resulting in his acquittal.
Tompkins Square Park Riot
In August 1988, a riot erupted in Alphabet City's Tompkins Square Park in the East Village of Manhattan when police attempted to enforce a newly passed curfew for the park. Bystanders, artists, residents, homeless people and political activists clashed with police on the night of August 6 and the early morning of the following day. In a report released by Commissioner Benjamin Ward, the police department's actions were "not well planned, staffed, supervised or executed... which culminated in a riot."
Anthony Baez death
On December 22, 1994, 29-year old Anthony Baez was choked to death by police officer Francis X. Livoti in the University Heights section of the Bronx. In 1998, Livoti was convicted of violating Baez' civil rights, and two other officers were convicted of lying on the witness stand at Livoti's trial.
Abner Louima sodomy
On August 9, 1997, Police Officer Justin Volpe in Brooklyn sodomized Abner Louima with a broken broom handle in the 70th Precinct bathroom. Officer Volpe eventually pled guilty and received a sentence of 30 years in federal prison. Other officers were also implicated and convicted on charges stemming from the initial cover-up.
Amadou Diallo death
On February 4, 1999, four plainclothes NYPD officers working under the Street Crimes Unit fired 41 gunshots at Amadou Diallo, killing him instantly. Diallo, whom the officers mistook for a since-convicted rapist, was later found to be unarmed. The officers were subsequently acquitted, but the City of New York and the NYPD later paid out US$3,000,000 to Diallo's parents in a civil suit. Following the controversy, the Street Crimes Unit was abolished three years later.
On March 16, 2000, Dorismond was approached by undercover officer Anthony Vasquez, who asked Dorismond how he and his partners could buy marijuanna. When Dorismond refused, a struggle occurred and Vasquez shot the unarmed Dorismond to death. Much of the resulting controversy was about releasing Dorismond's sealed juvenile record to the media, claiming a person's right to privacy no longer existed once such persons die. Vasquez was never indicted by a grand jury for Dorismond's death.
Ousmane Zongo death
On May 22, 2003, 43-year old Ousmane Zongo, an immigrant from Burkina Faso, was shot four times by Police Officer Bryan Conroy in a Chelsea warehouse. In 2005, Conroy was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to 5 years probation. In 2006, the city awarded the Zongo family $3 million to settle a wrongful death suit.
Louis Eppolito and Steven Caracappa who, while on the payroll of the NYPD, were also on the payroll of the Lucchese crime family and were abusing their authority as officers of the NYPD. They would routinely violate the civil rights of the citizens of New York City, and moonlighted for the crime family. They would use NYPD files to track down the enemies of the crime family and were ultimately convicted of the murders of Eddie Lino, Michael Greenwald (an informant for the FBI) and innocent man Nick Guido who had the same name as a man targeted by the crime family. Eppolito received life in prison with an additional 100 years and Caracappa received life in prison with an additional 80 years. They were also fined a combined $4 million. They received a monthly salary of $5000 from the crime family.
Timothy Stansbury death
On January 24, 2004, Housing Bureau officer Richard Neri, Jr., accidentally shot to death Timothy Stansbury, a 19-year-old black man who was trespassing on the roof landing of a Bedford-Stuyvesant housing project. Stansbury was unarmed but had apparently startled Neri upon opening the roof door coming upon the officer. At that point, Neri discharged his service firearm and mortally wounded Stansbury. Although Commissioner Kelly stated that the shooting appeared "unjustified", a Brooklyn jury found that no criminal act occurred and that the event was a tragic accident. Neri was thus cleared of all charges. The city later agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Stansbury family. A grand jury declined to indict Neri but Kelly later suspended him for 30 days without pay and permanently stripped him of his weapon.
Dennis Kim and Jerry Svoronos, two police officers working out of the 109th Precinct, Gina Kim and Geeho Chae, brothel operators, were arrested on March 8, 2006, for bribery charges relating to the protection of a brothel located in Flushing, Queens. Agents seized approximately $800,000 in cash, believed to be the proceeds of the brothel, from Kim and Chae's vehicle and residence. On March 8, 2006 search warrants were executed at the brothel and a boarding house used by the brothel workers, and agents seized immigration documents, business records, and a small quantity of ecstasy. The two officers were in a unit which targets quality-of-life-type crimes. Members of the precincts engaged in a practice known as "flaking", in which cops planted marijuana, cocaine, or Ecstasy on suspects. Members of the conditions unit maintained a small stash of drug in an Altoids tin for this purpose, Assistant U.S. Attorney Monica Ryan said. In addition, 16 Chinese and Korean brothel workers were taken into immigration custody.
Sean Bell shooting incident
On November 25, 2006, plainclothes police officers shot and killed Sean Bell and wounded two of his companions, one critically, outside of the Kalua Cabaret in Queens. No weapon was recovered. According to the police, Bell rammed his vehicle into an undercover officer and hit an unmarked NYPD minivan twice, prompting undercover officers to fire fifty rounds into Bell's car. A bullet piercing the nearby AirTrain JFK facility startled two Port Authority patrolmen stationed there. An undercover officer claims he heard one of the unarmed man's companions threaten to get his gun to settle a fight with another individual. Civil case resumes May 6, 2010. On April 25, 2008, Justice Arthur Cooperman cleared Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora of murder charges and Detective Marc Cooper of reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell.
Kidnapping of drug dealer
On October 29, 2008, officer Jorge Arbaje-Diaz pled not guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court to charges that he kidnapped, robbed, and tortured drug dealers for more than 1,600 pounds (730 kg) of cocaine and $4 million in cash.
NYPD subway sodomy scandal
On October 15, 2008, five officers attempted to arrest Michael Mineo for smoking marijuana in a Brooklyn subway station. Days later, Mineo made accusations claiming he was sodomized with a police radio antenna by the officers. On December 9, 2008, the Brooklyn District Attorney announced that three of the officers, Richard Kern, Alex Cruz, and Andrew Morales, were indicted on criminal charges. According to the District Attorney, officer Kern sodomized Mineo with his expandable baton after the officers handcuffed him. Officer Kern was charged with aggravated sexual abuse and assault, and faced up to 25 years in prison, and officers Cruz and Morales were charged with hindering prosecution and official misconduct, and faced up to 4 years in prison. All three officers were acquitted of all charges.
Retaliation against Adrian Schoolcraft
In May 2010, Adrian Schoolcraft, a former NYPD officer, publicized recordings he made in secret while on duty, showing a pattern of corruption and retaliation against him for refusing to cooperate. Officers detained citizens without charges to meet quota and failed to report serious crimes, including rape, to make their department appear to be reducing crime rates. When the NYPD learned that Schoolcraft was privately investigating such corruption, concern for his mental health was used as an excuse for armed officers to kidnap and imprison him in a hospital. As of 2010 he was suspended without pay and was filing suit against the NYPD.
Asthma death incident
In August 2010, 11-year-old Briana Ojeda died from an asthma attack after an NYPD officer denied her mother's pleas to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Ojeda's mother allegedly was driving her daughter to the hospital when she took a wrong one-way turn in a neighborhood street and stopped to ask Officer Alfonso Mendez for help. Ojeda's mother claimed Mendez smirked at her and said, "I don't know CPR." and tried to ticket her. A bystander performed CPR and by the time an ambulance arrived, Mendez had left. After a one week manhunt, Mendez was identified and has been suspended without pay indefinitely.
NYPD "rape cops" scandal
In December 2008, two on-duty NYPD officers were charged with raping a woman whom they had been dispatched to help on a 911 call. Officers Kenneth Moreno, age 43, and Franklin Mata, age 29, were called to help a drunken woman climb out of a taxi and into her apartment in 2008. The woman testified that she awoke in her bedroom to being raped by Moreno; Mata was said to have acted as a lookout during the incident. Although both men were acquitted of the rape at trial in May 2011, the jury's verdict proved highly controversial and drew large protests. Moreno and Mata were, however, found guilty of official misconduct for going back into the woman's apartment three times without alerting their superiors and making erroneous calls to 911 with claims of a nonexistent homeless man loitering in the area, to facilitate their return to the premises. As a result of the convictions, both officers were immediately terminated from the NYPD.
In September 2011, an off-duty NYPD officer, Michael Pena, was charged with raping a schoolteacher at gunpoint. According to the woman, she was stopped by Pena, who was allegedly intoxicated, and ordered her into an apartment backyard as he pointed a gun into her face. At Pena's trial, the woman tesitifed that Pena had threatened to kill her if she screamed or looked at him as he began to rape her. An apartment resident heard the woman's pleas for him to stop and called 911. The NYPD was able to confirm that Pena was drunk and armed, but he denies raping her. He was charged with 10 felonies, including predatory assault, sexual assault, and first-degree rape, and pled not guilty. On March 27, 2012, Pena was found guilty on the predatory assault and sexual assault charges, but the jury deadlocked on the rape charges. Three months after the trial, Pena plead guilty to rape and was sentenced to 75-to-life.
2011 ticket fixing scandal
Paid Detail Unit
An October 2011 article by Pam Martens in the CounterPunch newsletter, alleged police corruption in reference to the NYPD's Paid Detail Unit that allows corporations to hire NYPD police officers for security duties. The Paid Detail Unit was established by Mayor Giuliani 1998 as a way to increase revenue to New York City that allowed off-duty police officers to moonlight in uniform and as of 2003 nearly half of NYPD's street cops (11,000) were on the Paid Detail Unit. The then commanding officer of the Unit justified the program by claiming cops are off the business payroll the moment they see a crime committed and are expected to respond just as they would if they were off-duty.
Muslim surveillance controversy
When the Associated Press published reports on the NYPD's spying on Muslims in New York City and neighboring New Jersey, the NYPD faced much controversy and criticism. Muslims were spied on in mosques, restaurants, streets, public places and Muslim groups, and websites were scrutinized. It resulted in much confusion and anger from Muslim communities in the United States, as well as support from New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. The FBI criticized the spying as unhealthy. The Associated Press won 2012 Pulitzer Prize for the investigation. Later, in June 2012, Muslims in New Jersey sued the NYPD over the spying. However, the lawsuit was dismissed in February 2014 by a federal judge who said that the surveillance of the Muslim community was a lawful effort to prevent terrorism, not a civil-rights violation. The surveillance program was disbanded on April 15, 2014 after a meeting that was held with several Muslim advocates on April 8, 2014. It was also revealed that the surveillance program failed to generate even a single lead.
Michael Premo case
Occupy Wall Street activist Michael Premo was arrested on December 17, 2011 and charged with assaulting an officer. Prosecutors argued and the arresting officer gave sworn testimony that Premo "charged the police like a linebacker, taking out a lieutenant and resisting arrest so forcefully that he fractured an officer's bone."
The defense located video that was taken by freelancer Jon Gerberg which contradicted the sworn testimony, instead showing officers "tackling [Premo] as he attempted to get back on his feet". Prosecutors claimed no video of Premo's arrest existed, yet the Gerberg video clearly showed an NYPD officer also filming Premo's arrest  Nick Pinto of Village Voice wrote that "information provided by the NYPD in the trial was fabricated to such a degree that the allegations made by the police officers have turned out to be quite literally the opposite of what actually happened.
Kyam Livingston death
On July 21, 2013, 37-year-old Kyam Livingston died in NYPD custody after being arrested by officers of Brooklyn's 70th Precinct due to a verbal confrontation with her grandmother that police say was in violation of an order of protection. Upon arrest, Livingston was brought to Kings County Hospital for alcohol and drug testing but was released in a few hours. She was then processed at the precinct and brought to Brooklyn Central Booking to await arraignment. After approximately 13 hours in custody, Livingston experienced stomach pain and diarrhea and began to repeatedly request medical assistance over the course of seven more hours. According to witnesses, NYPD officers on duty refused to issue Livingston any medical attention, stating that she was an "alcoholic" and threatening to "lose the paperwork" of Livingston and other women in the cell who were pleading for someone to come to her aid. It was further reported that Livingston was dead for at least 20 minutes before emergency medical staff arrived.
Beginning in August 2013, there were repeated demonstrations in Brooklyn demanding the names of the officers on duty at the time of Livingston's death, the release of video surveillance tapes from the cell Livingston was detained in, and the full investigation and improvement of conditions at Brooklyn Central Booking jail. Livingston's family filed a Notice of Claim against the NYPD and other government entities as a prerequisite to an $11 million lawsuit, and called for the criminal prosecution of any police officer who denied medical attention to Livingston while she was in their custody. The NYPD Internal Affairs Division’s investigation of the matter is ongoing.
Alexian Lien beating
The beating of Alexian Lien took place on September 29, 2013 on New York City's Henry Hudson Parkway in an altercation Lien and motorcyclists participating in a rally called "Hollywood's Block Party". One of the bikers pulled in front of Lien and slowed dramatically, an action sometimes referred to as "brake checking". Lien stopped his vehicle and was quickly surrounded by bikers. Lien accelerated to escape and struck one of the bikers, critically injuring him. A chase ensued, ending in Lien being pulled from his vehicle and beaten. The bikers included an off-duty New York City police officer. The attack was caught on video and garnered international attention. A number of bikers are facing assault and other criminal charges, and legislation has been proposed to regulate motorcycle rallies in New York City.
The NYPD faced criticism when some of the bikers involved in the chase and attack were identified as an off-duty New York City police officer. Ten-year veteran and undercover detective Wojciech Braszczok surrendered to authorities and was arrested on October 8. An undercover narcotics detective has been identified by the press as being present but not participating in the assault. Sources have reported a total of five off-duty officers were originally present on the West Side Highway, and that at least two saw the assault.
Death of Eric Garner
On July 17, 2014, at 4:45 p.m., Eric Garner was approached by a plainclothes police officer, Justin Damico, in front of a beauty supply store at 202 Bay Street in the Tompkinsville neighborhood in Staten Island. After telling the police officers, "I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I'm tired of it. It stops today!" Garner raised both his arms in the air and was then put in a chokehold from behind by officer Daniel Pantaleo, in order to be subdued. While Garner repeatedly stated he was not able to breathe, other officers struggled to bring him down onto the sidewalk and have him put his arms behind his back. The video shows officer Pantaleo using his hands to push Garner's face into the sidewalk. He died a few minutes later.
The video also showed that police waited seven minutes before giving Garner cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Use of the chokehold has been prohibited by New York City Police Department policy since 1993.
The final autopsy report in Garner's death showed that Garner did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system and had no head trauma. The New York Times reported that the autopsy suggested his obesity and health problems combined with pinning him to the ground and bringing him down with a chokehold may have caused his fatal heart attack.
As a result of Eric Garner's death, Police Commissioner William Bratton ordered an extensive review of the NYPD's training procedures after Garner's death, specifically focusing on the appropriate amount of force that can be used while detaining a suspect.
Rigging of evidence to secure convictions
Retired detective Louis Scarcella and his colleague Stephen W. Chmil rigged evidence to promote their own careers which led to imprisonment of dozens of innocents. District Attorney Charles J. Hynes reopened the cases of 56 people arrested by Detective Scarcella; at least five cases of Detective Chmil’s (out of 300 deemed probably wrongful) scrutinized by nonprofit Exoneration Initiative made clear that he "invented confessions, coached witnesses and persuaded others to change their descriptions of perpetrators to match the suspect in custody — even in cases he worked without Detective Scarcella".
- David Ranta (for brutal 1990 slaying of a prominent rabbi) was exonerated on NY murder charge on March 23, 2013 and won a $6.4 million settlement from the City of New York in 2014.
- Nelson I. Cruz (1998 killing of a man in East New York, Brooklyn) was arrested at age 16 for murder. He insists he was not at the crime scene.
- Crack-cocaine addict Jeffrey Campbell (charge: robbery of a shoe store in 1985) was pressured by the detectives to testify against their suspect, else they would set him up on a phony charge.
- Valance Cole (charge: drug-related homicide of Michael Jennings 1985) was convicted. "In 1994, Mr. Campbell, dying of AIDS, suddenly recanted. He said prosecutors had promised to drop charges if he falsely blamed Mr. Cole for the murder. Detective Chmil, he said in a sworn statement, gave him a script.". Campbell’s recantation was judged incredible and Cole stayed in prison. Years later, another judge acknowledged that Mr. Cole was “probably innocent” but refused to overturn his conviction.
- Teresa Gomez, a crack-cocaine addict who has since died, claimed to have seen several unrelated murders.
The Legal Aid Society, which represents 20 of the people whose cases were reopened by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, is concerned that the prosecutors’ review is too narrow, because it is limited to cases in which Detective Scarcella testified in court. “There are literally hundreds of cases that could be affected,” said Steven Banks, attorney-in-chief of the Legal Aid Society. “It stands to reason that these 50 are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s enough evidence that Scarcella may not have acted alone. A fair look would require a much broader inquiry.”
Mr. Hynes’s office said it had added about five cases to the review since it was announced in May. The office declined to comment on any cases or say whether consideration was ever given to reviewing Detective Chmil’s investigations. Mr. Hynes lost his re-election bid in November. The incoming district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, suggested during the race that he would be open to widening the scope of the review.
Three half-brothers, Alvena Jennette, Robert Hill and Darryl Austin, have had their murder convictions cleared by the Brooklyn DA in cases linked to Scarcella and Gomez in May 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to New York City Police Department corruption and misconduct.|
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- Robles, Frances, and Stephanie Clifford, "3 Are Exonerated of Murder in Cases Tied to a Discredited Detective", New York Times, May 5, 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
- Gabriel J. Chin and Scott Wells, The "Blue Wall of Silence" as Evidence of Bias and Motive to Lie: A New Approach to Police Perjury, 59 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 233 (1998).