New York City Police Department corruption and misconduct
Various scandals and allegations of the New York City Police Department have occurred throughout the department's history, some involving police misconduct.“Narrowly defined, corruption refers to police personnel who use their position and authority for personal rather than public benefit. More broadly, corruption refers to any violation of rules even when there is no personal gain, as in perjury, physical abuse of prisoners, sexual misconduct, robbery, and racial profiling” (Police Corruption). Police corruption has been molded by culture.During the mid-to-late nineteenth century the police department had become notorious for ending strikes violently. Vigilante groups such as the Ku Klux Klan ignited the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 in order to put an end to law enforcement brutality. This act was created to stop white supremacist and vigilante groups from violently attacking African Americans during the Reconstruction. The Civil Rights Act of 1871 is also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 or the Force Act of 1871. The act entails the stoppage of acting under state law to deprive people of their rights (Police Corruption and Misconduct). This act directly connects to the modern-day police corruption and misconduct by including Section 1983, which enforces constitutional rights. Section1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 was designed to end racial violence after the Civil War but later became means used in court cases dealing with police misconduct (Police Corruption and Misconduct). Supreme Court case Monell v. Department of Social Services and Monroe v. Pape made it clear of Congress’ real intentions in passing Section 1983. This section became an outline of “rights, privileges, [and] immunities” (Section 1983). It, also, upheld that the Civil Rights Act of 1871 does include matters of state or municipal officials’ actions. Legal matters were used to shape restrictions on brutality done by law enforcement officers. Another act that is used to prevent police corruption is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, skin color, sex, or orientation (The Civil Rights Act of 1964). This act halted and dispersed the “Jim Crow Laws”, which were justified in the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson. In this case the Supreme Court came to the decision of “separate but equal” was, indeed, constitutional. This decision enabled racial segregation but the Civil Rights Act of 1964 dismissed it. These acts and Supreme Court decisions strengthened the Fourth Amendment. The three components of the Fourth Amendment were all created to protect United States citizens from the intimidating strength and power of law enforcement (Constitution of the United States of America). It reads: “ The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” This means that the Fourth Amendment establishes a right of privacy for United States citizens. It, also, establishes that unreasonable or unwarranted searches and seizures are prohibited. Lastly, it creates a prohibition of an undetailed (not containing place of search and items intended for seizure) warrant issued to a law enforcement officer. In order to uphold the expectations of the Fourth Amendment, the Exclusionary Rule was enacted. The Exclusionary Rule states that any evidence obtained in an illegal search cannot be used in court. This rule has been used in Supreme Court cases, such as Weeks v. United States and Mapp v. Ohio (Exclusionary Rule), to illuminate the intolerance of police misconduct. The Fifth and Sixth Amendments, also, help protect U.S. citizens from police misconduct and corruption. The Fifth Amendment calls for citizens to be free from self-incrimination before law enforcement officers conduct any interrogations, while the Sixth Amendment grants citizens the right to counsel for self-defense (Constitution of the United States of America). These amendments were used in Supreme Court cases like Escobedo v. Illinois, Miranda v. Arizona, Brewer v. Williams, and Nix v. Williams (Models of Police Corruption). In order to control corruption it must be prevented, reduced, and eliminated. Internal corruption control involves the intoleration of corruption, which is created by rules, regulations, and the attitudes of commanding officers. Rules and regulations effectively and clearly outline actions that will not be tolerated, provide standards for officer supervision, provide grounds for punishment, and create guidance for training of officers (McGraw, and Hill). Other internal preventative corruption tactics include actively testing integrity, supervision, rewarding good behavior, personal recruitment of officers, and breaking the Code of Silence, which is an unwritten rule among police officers to not report colleague’s errors, misconducts, or crimes (Blue Code of Silence). External corruption control includes special investigations that are independent of the police department, criminal prosecution, exposing corruption, and informing the public. Examples of external corruption control are the committees, investigations, and commissions organized in New York. In 1985, the Lexow Committee was created by the New York State Senate. The Curran Committee was instituted in 1914 by the New York City Alderman after the murder of Herman Rosenthal by Charles Becker, a NYPD Lieutenant. External investigations helped break police corruption. The Seabury Investigation of 1932 and the Helford Investigation of 1949 were responses to reports of law enforcement misconduct. Other establishments against police corruption include the Knapp Commission from1972-1973and the Mollen Commission of 1994. The modern-day organization that helps defend people from police corruption is the Commission to Combat Police Corruption (CCPC). CCPC was instituted in1994 in order to “monitor and evaluate the anti-corruption programs, activities, commitment, and effects of the NYPD” (Jay, John).
- 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 NYPD Muslim surveillance controversy
- 2.26 Occupy Wall Street - Michael Premo case
- 2.27 Kyam Livingston death
- 2.28 Alexian Lien beating
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 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 Queens' South Jamacia district, thinking Clifford had a gun. On June 12, 1974, Shea was acquitted of wrongdoing by 11 white and one black juror 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, Bumpurs used a knife against NYPD officers when she was being evicted from her Bronx apartment for non-payment of her rent and as psychotic. Stephen Sullivan fired two shots from his 12-gauge single barreled shotgun, sending one pellet into Eleanor's 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 Queens's Ozone Park, 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 convicted of assault and were sentenced to four to six years for each officer.
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 New York City 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 CPR. 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 claimng 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.
NYPD Muslim surveillance controversy
NYPD made headlines when Associated Press published reports on NYPD's spying on Muslims in New York City and neighboring New Jersey. Muslims were spied on in mosques, restaurants, streets, public places & Muslim groups & websites were scrutinized. It resulted in large confusion, anger from Muslim communities in America as well as support from New York City mayor Bloomberg. FBI criticised the spying as unhealthy. Associated Press won 2012 Pulitzer Prize for the investigation. Later, in June,2012, NJ Muslims sued NYPD over spying.
Occupy Wall Street - 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  One author 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, NY 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
On September 29, 2013, on New York City's Henry Hudson Parkway, an SUV driven by motorist Alexian Lien was involved in a vehicular accident with motorcyclist Christopher Cruz. A fifty-block (two-and-a-half-mile) chase by Cruz's companions ensued. The motorcyclists, who allegedly had been participating in an unapproved Sunday rally, pursued Lien to Manhattan's 178th Street, at the foot of the George Washington Bridge and assaulted him. Bikers, including off-duty New York City police officers, were involved in the chase and assault. 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to New York City Police Department corruption and misconduct.|
- Adrian Schoolcraft
- Jimmy Justice
- Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa
- New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board
- Thomas F. Byrnes
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