Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton in May signed off on the penalty against Sgt. Eliezer Pabon, who was found guilty of using excessive force against then-14-year-old Javier Payne at an administrative trial, police sources said.
But the disciplinary action was shrouded in secrecy because it came after the NYPD reversed a decades-long policy of providing the media the results of disciplinary actions taken against police officers.
Word of Pabon’s punishment comes a day after The News reported that Bronx Officer Joseph Spina was docked eight vacation days for an April incident in which he was caught on video trashing the mayor while giving a driver a summons.
Spina said the driver had the mayor to thank for the summons and that if he lived in the city, he wouldn’t have voted for de Blasio. Spina was found guilty of expressing his personal opinion about public policy.
The disparity infuriated lawyer Scott Rynecki, who is suing the NYPD on behalf of Payne’s mother, Cherita Payne.
“Javier and his mother are outraged,” the attorney said. “You penalize one police officer for merely stating something verbally and you give him eight vacation days and another one who has been found guilty by a tribunal of using excessive force and nearly killing this young man — you’re giving him five days.
“What’s the public to think — that it’s worse for a cop to complain about his bosses than it is to lay his hands on people and use excessive force?” he added.
The NYPD did not answer a question about the two cases.
Payne and a friend were busted on Arthur Ave. in May 2014 for allegedly punching a man in the face after asking him for a cigarette.
Payne was handcuffed and apparently mouthing off when Pabon was seen on security surveillance video pushing him into the front window of Hookah Spot, a 24-hour convenience store.
The shattered glass nearly killed Payne. His lung was punctured and shards of glass had to be removed from near his heart.
“He had to be rushed into surgery,” Rynecki said. “It literally almost took his life.”
Then-Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson decided not to present the case to a grand jury after finding the window already had a crack in it, Rynecki said.
But the NYPD filed administrative charges against Pabon, who joined the force in July 2007, and asked that Pabon lose 30 vacation days.
Sources said while Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Trials Nancy Ryan found Pabon guilty, she recommended a five-day penalty to Bratton, saying a push is not the same type of force as a punch or a kick.
The controversy comes amid calls for a change to section 50-A of the state’s 1976 Civil Rights Law, which protects an officer’s personnel record from public release or from being mentioned in court unless a judge says otherwise.
The measure was passed in part to prevent defense attorneys from attacking an officer’s credibility based on unsubstantiated misconduct claims.
But the NYPD said it had for years unwittingly violated the law by posting summaries of administrative cases against its officers in police press office.
When it realized in the spring what it had been doing, it announced such summaries would no longer be released.
The reversal by the NYPD has far-reaching ramifications — and could cast the outcomes of high-profile cases into the shadows.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, for one, may face departmental charges related to the chokehold death of Eric Garner in 2014.
Reporters and members of the public could attend his trial at One Police Plaza.
But because a finding of guilt or innocence is not determined until weeks or months after a trial’s conclusion, the results could not lawfully be released, police say.