Police, at Odds with Oversight Board, Reject More of Its Penalties

Tensions have increased between the New York Police Department, led by Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.CreditCreditJohn Taggart for The New York Times

By Benjamin Mueller, April 12, 2018

 

The New York Police Department, at odds with a civilian oversight board about changes to a rule the police used to delay disciplinary decisions for hundreds of days, has increasingly turned its back on the board’s proposed penalties since the rule was tightened.

The police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, is now reducing or rejecting the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s disciplinary recommendations in a substantial majority of cases, even though the board is pursuing more lenient penalties, according to an annual report the board released on Thursday.

By that measure, relations between the two agencies — inherently contentious — are at their lowest point since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014.

The department’s treatment of review board recommendations last year reversed a yearslong trend as the police made more use of so-called reconsideration requests, a practice allowing the department to challenge the board’s findings or proposed penalties.

But the board, stung by the 200-plus days it was taking the department to lodge such challenges, instituted a 90-day deadline at the end of 2016, with exceptions only for new evidence or a misapplication of the law.

With that change, two years of relative comity between the agencies ended, just a few months into the tenure of Mr. O’Neill, who had succeeded William J. Bratton as commissioner.

In the most serious cases, prosecuted by the review board before a police administrative judge, Mr. O’Neill departed from the board’s recommended penalties 73 percent of the time last year, in most instances after an administrative judge found an officer not guilty. That was up from 60 percent of those cases in 2016.

Overall, almost half of the most serious cases that were closed in 2017 ended with no discipline. And on four occasions, Mr. O’Neill reversed a guilty verdict at trial.

He also broke from the board’s proposed penalties in almost 60 percent of cases in which the board recommended a lower class of penalties last year, up from 34 percent of those cases in 2016.

Those numbers put Mr. de Blasio in an uncomfortable position since he had campaigned for mayor on a promise of greater police accountability and, as a city councilman, sponsored a bill giving the civilian oversight board more power. Not since the former commissioner Raymond W. Kelly was at loggerheads with the oversight board over stop-and-frisk tactics have the police departed so often from the board’s proposed penalties.

Richard D. Emery, chairman of the oversight board from 2014 to 2016, said: “The C.C.R.B. very quickly becomes irrelevant because it’s no longer a meaningful part of the disciplinary process, and is just a palliative to people who complain with no real consequence.”

The Police Department has rejected the recommendations of the review board even as the board pursues lighter penalties. The board sought the most serious punishment, which leads to a trial process, against only 11 percent of officers with a substantiated allegation last year, down from 66 percent of such officers in 2013. Instead, the board is more often recommending “command discipline,” which can mean anything from the officer’s getting guidance from a commanding officer to the officer’s forfeiting up to 10 vacation days.

Review board officials have said a 2014 expansion of their disciplinary options allowed them to tailor proposed penalties to an officer’s conduct. Mr. Emery has also said reducing proposed penalties was meant to persuade the police to accept more of the board’s recommendations.

But at the same time, the police started channeling their disagreement into reconsideration requests in 2014. By the second half of 2016, the police took an average of 264 days to lodge a challenge, severely prolonging cases.

Some critics have always said that process was needlessly accommodating of a department that already controlled final outcomes. The police commissioner has the final say over all verdicts and penalties.

The review board tightened its rules further in February, giving the police 30 days to challenge recommendations, with some exceptions.

Kevin S. Richardson, the deputy commissioner in charge of the department advocate’s office, which reviews the oversight board’s recommendations, said police officials had met with the board to express concerns about no longer having enough time to launch challenges. He said the department had added lawyers to the unit that reviews oversight board cases to reduce delays.

In around half the cases of officers who had allegations reconsidered in 2015 and 2016, the review board downgraded the disposition or disciplinary recommendation, and Mr. Richardson said the department would not have broken with the review board so often in 2017 had that trend continued. Last year the board rejected departmental challenges in cases involving 119 officers, stuck with its decisions for 13 officers and downgraded the finding or the disciplinary recommendation for 14.

“Police Commissioner O’Neill is not in any way disregarding or ignoring the C.C.R.B. or not giving them the legitimacy the agency deserves,” Mr. Richardson said.

A growing supply of video evidence has helped the review board close more investigations and substantiate more of those cases. But overall, only a third of cases resolved last year were fully investigated, with many of them truncated because a complainant or witness stopped cooperating or couldn’t be found. People often have to come to the review board’s offices in Lower Manhattan during business hours for a complaint to proceed.

Christopher T. Dunn, the associate legal director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the truncation rates were a significant concern: “If you’re a victim of police misconduct, that’s not going to give you a lot of confidence in the C.C.R.B.,” he said.

Jonathan Darche, executive director of the review board, said making the review board more accessible to the public was a priority, with the goal of enabling the agency “to investigate misconduct, identify trends, and ultimately, increase accountability and improve police-community relations.”

Benjamin Mueller, April 12, 2018, NYTimes, Police, at Odds with Oversight Board, Reject More of Its Penalties”, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/12/nyregion/police-at-odds-with-oversight-board-reject-more-of-its-penalties.html

Advertisements

Police Officer Is Charged With Lying About Finding a Gun

Police Officer Joseph Moloney, left, arrived at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty to perjury charges. CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times
Police Officer Joseph Moloney, left, arrived at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty to perjury charges.CreditCreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times

By Joseph Goldstein, March 27, 2018

 

A New York police officer was arraigned on Tuesday on perjury charges after prosecutors said he repeatedly lied about how the police found a gun in a Brooklyn apartment.

The officer, Joseph Moloney, 27, is accused of providing several false stories, under oath, about how the police discovered a gun in an apartment in the Red Hook Houses complex in South Brooklyn in 2016. Officer Moloney initially claimed that he had found the gun when it was another officer — a sergeant — who had discovered it, prosecutors said. Ultimately, he came clean, but that did not help him. Prosecutors charged him in a 24-count indictment that includes perjury in the first degree and official misconduct.

He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charges before Justice Danny K. Chun in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. Officer Moloney’s lawyer, John Tynan, declined to comment on the charges.

“Our police officers are expected to be truthful and honest at all times because people’s fates and the integrity of the justice system depend on that,” said Eric Gonzalez, the Brooklyn district attorney. “We allege that the officer in this case failed to do that and instead repeatedly gave false testimony under oath. Such conduct diminishes public trust and is, in fact, criminal. We intend to now hold the defendant accountable.”

Last week, The New York Times published an investigation into police perjury within the New York Police Department that found that false testimony by the police, known as “testilying,” remains a problem. This year, a Queens detective, Kevin Desormeau, has been convicted of perjury and a Brooklyn detective has been charged with fabricating a photo lineup.

Even as Officer Moloney was arraigned, prosecutors offered little explanation about why they believe he lied. They also did not say if they suspect it had been his idea to lie or if he been instructed to lie by superiors. At the time of the gun arrest, Officer Moloney had been a police officer for three years. As contradictions in his account were exposed, Officer Moloney cited his inexperience as the reason for the error, prosecutors said.

The charges against Officer Moloney stem from an arrest he and other officers made on May 6, 2016, in the public housing apartment building where they had been seeking to arrest a man on a warrant for low-level charges. The officers knocked on the door of an apartment and arrested the man when he answered the door, prosecutors said.

Because it was early in the morning, the man was not properly dressed. The officers followed him into a bedroom to allow him to put on clothes. Officer Moloney and a second officer left with the man to process the arrest, prosecutors said, but about 15 minutes later a sergeant who had stayed behind told the officers to come back.

Inside the apartment was an open black box containing a gun as well as a few bags of marijuana, prosecutors said. At that point, the sergeant told Officer Moloney to go get a search warrant. But when Officer Moloney went to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office to apply for the warrant, he claimed that he — not the sergeant — discovered the gun.

He also insinuated that the arrested man had tried to hide the gun.

“As I was assisting Mr. [redacted] to get dressed, Mr. [redacted] kicked a black plastic box under the bed where the baby was sleeping. I then opened the black plastic box and observed a silver pistol inside the box,” Officer Moloney wrote in a search warrant affidavit, according to the indictment.

He repeated this account, with some variations, to a grand jury, and at court proceedings, prosecutors said.

His story came under scrutiny when photographs from the apartment showed that the bed was set on the floor. At that point, Officer Moloney said the suspect had been trying to push the box away from the bed — rather than toward it, prosecutors said.

“When we were getting him dressed we’re noticing he’s pushing the box away from the actual bed and we realize that it’s open a little and we see that there’s also a firearm in the box,” Officer Moloney testified on Feb. 1. in a family court hearing.

Asked about the discrepancy, Officer Moloney said it was an error based on a lack of experience. It was, he said in Supreme Court, a “mistake on my part, being my first search warrant that I’d sworn out alone, and just a rookie mistake.”

But in July 2017 Officer Moloney admitted that he had not been the one to open the black box, prosecutors said. He also said that he did not observe the moment that the box was being opened, prosecutors said.

“I want to come clean to you,” he told officials, according to the indictment. “I did not open the black plastic box. I did not see the box being opened by someone else. I wasn’t in the room.”

Based on this, prosecutors dismissed the gun charges against the man, whom prosecutors did not identify. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office referred the matter to the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which led to perjury charges being filed against Officer Moloney.

Joseph Goldstein, March 27, 2018, NYTimes, Police Officer Is Charged With Lying About Finding a Gun”, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/27/nyregion/police-officer-perjury-new-york.html

Context is necessary for that ‘excessive force’ police video

We can’t say for sure whether the police officers in that Washington Heights video used excessive force. But it’s dead certain that the video doesn’t remotely tell the whole story — because videos never do.

The six minutes look bad — particularly when one officer opens his baton and swings it at a civilian’s head. As a police source told The Post, that’s a direct violation of NYPD guidelines: “The head is a red zone.”

Yet Michael Gonzalez, the passerby who caught the action on his cellphone, has said from the start that it leaves out what went on before: The two alleged victims going after the cops — harassing officers who were responding to complaints about men smoking and blocking a stairway at the 168th Street station. And another video confirms it.

The men, ID’d as Aaron Grissom and Sydney Williams, were the aggressors, and the cops were “just defending themselves,” says Gonzalez.

Grisson and Williams also have records — 30 prior arrests between them, according to law enforcement sources, including eight involving fights with police. They were arrested together last month for a similar altercation with cops at the same station.

And Williams has bragged on Facebook about how his brawling with police is about “getting paid” and that he has four lawsuits pending against the city. Cops “can’t touch me because they get hurt and I get paid. I got three lawsuits and working on No. 4,” he says in the 2017 video.

If Grissom and Williams turn out to be provocateurs who were looking for a payday, the real outrage here is what’s not on the videotape.

BASQUAIT’S POLICE BRUTALITY WORK HEADED TO GUGGENHEIM

By Erin White, December 19, 2018

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1983 painting “Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart)” was inspired by an early-morning encounter that Michael Stewart, 25, had with NYPD. Stewart was accused of spraying graffiti at a First Avenue subway station in the East Village. It was here where Stewart was kicked and beaten by as many as 11 police officers. “About 45 minutes later he arrived bruised, bleeding and comatose at Bellevue Hospital. …He died 13 days later without regaining consciousness.”Six white cops were eventually charged for the violence. All six cops were acquitted.

Fast-forward 35 years and Basquiat’s interpretation of the brutality is at the center of the Guggenheim’s “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story” (June 21-Nov. 6, 2019). “[It] will explore a formative chapter in the artist’s career through the lens of his identity and the role of cultural activism in New York City during the early 1980s” and “examine Basquiat’s exploration of Black identity, his protest against police brutality, and his attempts to craft a singular aesthetic language of empowerment.”

According to CultureType, the painting (originally painted directly on the wall of Keith Haring’s studio) was never meant for public consumption and has rarely been exhibited, which makes its appearance at the Guggenheim, of all places, a bit ironic.

Erin White, December 19, 2018, afropunk.com, “BASQUAIT’S POLICE BRUTALITY WORK HEADED TO GUGGENHEIM”, https://afropunk.com/2018/12/basquaits-police-brutality-work-headed-to-guggenheim/

‘Appalling’ video of police pulling a 1-year-old from his mother’s arms at a welfare office prompts an investigation

A group of police officers tried to pull a 1-year-old child from his mother’s arms as they arrested her at a Brooklyn food-assistance center Dec. 7.

December 10

Friday was a busy day at the Human Resources Administration office in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill, where New Yorkers can apply for food stamps and other forms of public assistance. Lines were moving slowly, and the drab gray building was packed. Jazmine Headley just wanted to get a voucher for city-funded day care so she could find someone to look after her 1-year-old son, Damone, while she went to work as a cleaner, her mother would tell reporters.

Instead, Headley, 23, ended up behind bars — and at the center of the latest viral video to inspire outrage over alleged police brutality.

The two-and-half-minute video posted to Facebook on Friday shows Headley lying on the floor, surrounded by uniformed New York police officers and security guards. She holds her 1-year-old son firmly in her arms as the officers forcibly try to yank the child away. “They’re hurting my son,” she screams again and again. Unmoved, the officers keep on tugging. As onlookers gather around and begin filming the commotion, one officer pulls out a stun gun.

As of early Monday, the video has been viewed more than 195,000 times on Facebook. Multiple elected officials have expressed shock and outrage. “It’s hard to watch this video,” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D) wrote on Twitter, calling the violent arrest “unacceptable, appalling and heart breaking.”

State Attorney General-elect Letitia James, who currently serves as New York City’s public advocate, said in a Sunday statement that the police officers’ actions had been “appalling and contemptible.” Calling for the officers to be put on desk duty while an investigation takes place, she wrote, “No mother should have to experience the trauma and humiliation we all witnessed in this video.”

“Being poor is not a crime,” James said.

Nyashia Ferguson, who shot and posted the video on Facebook, told reporters that the dispute started when the young mother sat on the floor because there were no more seats available in the crowded room.

“The security guard, I guess she came over and told her she couldn’t sit there,” Ferguson told WCBS. “So she’s like, ‘Where am I going to sit?’ ”

Told that she would just have to stand, Headley refused.

“She was like, ‘What is the crime? What did I do wrong?’ ” Ferguson said. “And then it just escalated.”

In a statement emailed to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department called the video “troubling” and said that the NYPD and HRA are investigating the incident. Police also said that office staff and security guards at the benefits office made multiple attempts to get Headley to leave “due to her disorderly conduct towards others, and for obstructing the hallway.” When that failed, they called 911.

Officers who arrived at the scene then told Headley to leave the office, police said. When she repeatedly refused, the security guards brought her to the floor. She continued to resist as police officers arrested her, according to the statement. It’s unclear whether Headley or her 1-year-old was hurt in the process — police said that she refused medical treatment for herself and for her son. No officers were injured.

Headley has been charged with resisting arrest, acting in a manner injurious to a child, obstructing governmental administration and criminal trespass, all misdemeanor offenses. According to police, New York City’s child welfare agency was notified, and a family member took custody of her son. Her mother, Jacqueline Jenkins, told WABC on Sunday that Headley is still in jail and has been barred from seeing Damone.

Ferguson, who filmed the altercation, questioned why the entire episode had to take place. Police could have done more to defuse the conflict, she suggested.

“If they would’ve just talked to her as a woman, gave her time to calm herself down, then I think it would have went way different,” she told WCBS. “She wouldn’t be in jail.”

Teenager Claims Body-Cams Show the Police Framed Him. What Do You See

A traffic stop in New York led to a young black man being arrested for possession of marijuana. What happened? The New York Times obtained videos that offer a rare window into how far police may be willing to go to make an arrest.

By Joseph Goldstein,

Marijuana arrests are the latest battleground for critics of the police who are fighting to reverse years of racially imbalanced policing in New York. While the Police Department has sharply scaled back marijuana arrests recently, more than 6,000 people were arrested in the first six months of 2018 over small amounts of pot, most of them black or Hispanic.

Until recently, these arrests were rarely taped, but that has changed now that many police officers in New York wear body cameras.

The New York Times has obtained body-camera recordings that document one arrest earlier this year on Staten Island. The videos offer a rare look at a type of encounter the public seldom sees, and show how aggressively the police will pursue a minor marijuana case, in some circumstances, and the subtle social dynamics that shape policing in New York.

But the videos also raise questions about how far the police will go to make an arrest. Lawyers for the defendant, Lasou Kuyateh, argue that the recordings contain possible proof that one of the police officers planted a marijuana cigarette in Mr. Kuyateh’s car. The officer and the Police Department deny the allegation.

It is not unusual for defendants to accuse the police of planting drugs, but rarely does evidence exist to support the accusation. In this case, however, the footage provides ground for heightened suspicion.

Though not conclusive, the recordings were problematic enough that prosecutors abruptly dropped the marijuana charge while one of the officers was in the middle of testifying at a pretrial hearing. The judge expressed concern about the officer’s testimony. Prosecutors encouraged the officer to get a lawyer. An internal police investigation later found no evidence of misconduct.

Mr. Kuyateh maintains that he was framed. His case underscores how difficult it can be to find out what happens during police encounters, even when the officers are wearing cameras.

On Feb. 28, two officers from Staten Island’s 120th Precinct, Kyle Erickson and Elmer Pastran, stopped a BMW sedan. The officers said the windows were excessively tinted and the car had turned without signaling. Four young black men were inside.

It appeared that at least some of the young men in the car had been smoking marijuana, which they admitted during the stop. But the young men told the officers they had just finished smoking, and insisted there wasn’t any more marijuana in the car. “I don’t appreciate being lied to,” Officer Pastran responded. “I know there is weed in the car. I smell it.”

He and his partner searched the BMW. Officer Pastran searched the back-seat area and announced he had found nothing. Officer Erickson, whose camera turned off in the middle of the search, looked in the back seat and apparently found nothing.

After several minutes, Mr. Kuyateh, the driver, shouted that Officer Erickson had put something in his car. He was arrested on the charge of obstructing the police investigation.

Officer Erickson then said he had discovered a marijuana cigarette, which he claimed had been burning on the floor behind the driver’s seat. It was in the same general area Officer Pastran had already searched, leading him to declare, “looks pretty clear.” Officer Erickson’s camera turned back on just before he made the discovery.

Yes, in this case Mr. Kuyateh, the driver, was arrested and spent two weeks in jail, until he made bail.

The New York Police Department has historically aggressively enforced marijuana laws. Marijuana arrests soared to more than 50,000 a year under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when the police often stopped young men on questionable grounds and searched them for contraband, a practice a federal judge eventually found unconstitutional.

In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio took office on a promise to roll back “stop-and-frisk.”

Yet marijuana arrests still remained an element of the department’s broken-windows policing strategy, which relies on aggressively cracking down on minor crimes and disorder. An average of 17,500 people have been arrested each year for marijuana possession since late 2014.

In June, Mayor de Blasio sought to further reduce marijuana arrests after an investigation by The Times examined the stark racial disparities of marijuana arrests.

Mr. Kuyateh, 19 at the time of the arrest, lived in Park Hill, a high-crime area in northeast Staten Island. Two years ago he pleaded guilty to an assault, according to the Staten Island Advance, though that case was sealed because he was a minor. His lawyers say he has no other criminal convictions.

Mr. Kuyateh said in an interview that he works two jobs. He recently bought the BMW used and was taking his friends for a drive on the day of the arrest.

Officer Pastran told his partner in one video that Mr. Kuyateh and his friends were “all OTA,” a local violent youth gang. But Mr. Kuyateh said in the interview this was false.

Officers Pastran and Erickson had been on the force for less than five years and appear to have unblemished records. Officer Erickson declined to comment, and Officer Pastran did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Officer Erickson comes from a family of police officers. In the videos, he appeared quieter and less gregarious than his partner. While searching the car, he expressed frustration and urgency. “We have to find something,” he said. “You know what I mean?”

Officer Elmer Pastran, a United States Air Force veteran, recognized the passengers from past interactions and kept a steady stream of banter with them, even as he searched them. The chatter seemed to work. The young men seemed more inclined to comply with his directions than his partner’s.

Officer Erickson testified over the summer at a pretrial hearing in Criminal Court in Staten Island that his camera turned off on its own, from some “technical difficulty.” This had happened on other occasions, too, he said.

Police officials suggested the camera may have deactivated when Officer Erickson leaned into the driver’s seat while searching the car, possibly sliding the main switch — on the camera’s front — into the “off” position.

Officer Erickson said he reactivated the camera — more than four minutes later — after he realized it was off, senior police officials said. The timing corresponded to the moment he was reaching for the marijuana cigarette.

“All right, this was in the back seat on the floor,” Officer Erickson narrates for the camera. “It’s a marijuana cigarette, it’s lit, just had to put it out.”

No. Mr. Kuyateh appeared in court at least 10 times to fight the charges and even rejected a plea offer that included no jail time.

The body-camera footage was entered into evidence at a pre-trial hearing. Officer Erickson testified that he “observed a brown lit marijuana cigarette on the floor behind the driver’s side.” He maintained that the marijuana cigarette was in plain view.

But in the middle of Officer Erickson’s testimony, something unusual happened. The judge, Christopher Robles, intervened, ordering the lawyers to meet with him in an off-the-record sidebar.

At the judge’s direction, the district attorney’s office informed the Police Department that Officer Erickson might need a lawyer, according to a court transcript and interviews. Officer Erickson did not finish his testimony. Instead prosecutors dismissed the charges against Mr. Kuyateh, citing the gap in Officer Erickson’s body-worn camera as the reason.

At a final court hearing last month, Mr. Kuyateh’s lawyer, C. Taylor Poor, of The Legal Aid Society, repeatedly tried to address what the evidence would have shown had she been able to finish questioning Officer Erickson about what happened during the search. But the judge cut her off.

“This case is dismissed and sealed,” Judge Robles said. “What I’m not going to allow happen is my courtroom to become a political place where these things are brought up.”

Yes. The video does not prove conclusively that Officer Erickson planted anything. But it does raise a troubling question: How did Officer Erickson find a lit marijuana cigarette in plain view on the rear floorboard just minutes after Officer Pastran searched the same area and found nothing?

Officer Erickson declined several requests to be interviewed for this article. Internal investigators at the New York Police Department reviewed the videos and found no misconduct.

“After a thorough investigation, the allegations were determined to be unfounded,” the Police Department’s chief spokesman, Phillip Walzak, said in a statement.

Joseph Goldstein, , NYTimes, Teenager Claims Body-Cams Show the Police Framed Him. What Do You See“, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/nyregion/body-cameras-police-marijuana-arrest.html

7 New York Police Officers Arrested in Prostitution and Gambling Investigation, Authorities Say

By Ashley Southall, Al Baker and Ali Winston,

 

[Update: It was a sweeping and complex criminal enterprise, prosecutors say. Read more.]

A three-year investigation ended Wednesday with the arrest of seven New York City police officers on prostitution, corruption and misconduct charges in connection with an illegal gambling and prostitution ring in Brooklyn and Queens, law enforcement officials said.

Two other officers, including a detective who until five months ago worked in the Internal Affairs Bureau, were stripped of their guns and shields and placed on administrative duty.

The police said that more than 40 civilians were also in custody or being sought in connection with the investigation, which began with an anonymous officer’s tip to the internal affairs unit in April 2015.

The arrested officers — three sergeants, two detectives and two officers — were indicted before they were taken into custody. They are suspected of providing protection for the ring’s activities in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and along Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, the police said. Area residents and public officials have long complained about brothels operating out of local homes, spas and bars, with new establishments popping up as quickly as the police shut the old ones down.

“Today, those who swore an oath and then betrayed it have felt the consequences of that infidelity,” the police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said in a statement. “The people of this department are rightly held to the highest standard, and should they fail to meet it, the penalty will be swift and severe.”.

Mr. O’Neill said with the arrests, the internal affairs unit and the Queens district attorney have “sent a clear message: There is no place in the N.Y.P.D. for criminal or unethical behavior.”

The Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said the officers are expected to be arraigned Thursday in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens.

Police officials see the arrests as a successful effort to uproot rogue officers within department ranks. But the case is likely to test the Police Department’s will on transparency as inevitable questions emerge about any prior misconduct among the officers who have been arrested and others who are being questioned. Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city has asserted an expansive view of a state law shielding police disciplinary records from public disclosure, frustrating civil liberties groups.

The sergeants who were arrested on Wednesday are Carlos Cruz, 41, who worked in the detective squad in the 69th Precinct in Canarsie, Brooklyn; Louis Failla, 49, who was assigned to evidence collection in southern Queens; and Cliff Nieves, 37, an investigator in the Transit Bureau. They were taken into custody along with two detectives, Giovanny Rojas-Acosta, 40, who was assigned to the Central Investigations Division, and Rene Samaniego, 43, who worked in the vice squad in southern Brooklyn. Officers Giancarlo Raspanti, 43, of the 109th Precinct in Flushing, Queens, and Steven Nieves, 32, of the 84th Precinct in Brooklyn Heights were also arrested.

The police said Sergeant Cruz, Detective Rojas-Acosta and Detective Samaniego were being held overnight on enterprise corruption charges; Sergeant Nieves and Officer Nieves were charged with promoting prostitution. Sergeant Failla was charged with official misconduct, as was Officer Raspanti.

Two other detectives, Manuel Rodriguez and Rafael Vega, were stripped of their guns and shields and placed on administrative duty for violations of police rules, the police said. The police did not specify how the men ran afoul of department rules.

Detective Rodriguez previously worked in internal affairs and arrived in the 72nd Precinct just five months ago, according to a city official who discussed the investigation on the condition of anonymity. Detective Vega worked on investigations of criminal enterprises.

During the three-year inquiry, the police sent dozens of undercover officers to locations where the ring was thought to operate and conducted more than 300 hours of surveillance, the police said. Investigators also collected physical evidence and obtained court warrants to intercept the officers’ electronic communications, according to the police.

Arrests for prostitution have declined in recent years in the city, but it remains a stubborn problem in parts of Queens and Brooklyn. Arrest rates for prostitution offenses — including patronizing, promoting, compelling, permitting, loitering and sex trafficking — are higher in the two boroughs than elsewhere in New York City. Of the 2,019 prostitution arrests in the city last year, 641 were in Queens and 568 were in Brooklyn, according to police data reported to the state’s criminal justice agency.

The stretch of Roosevelt Avenue that extends through Corona, Jackson Heights and Woodside in Queens has been likened to Times Square of yesteryear, when it was an epicenter of vice. In Sunset Park on Wednesday evening, Luis Ludec, 60, a resident, said he has seen prostitutes working in the neighborhood.

“I’ve seen them at 5 a.m. on the corner,” he said, motioning toward 40th Street along Third Avenue. “You see the rubbers.”

He said the women tried to entice him, and asked him if he “wanted a date,” but he explained that he does not buy sex and is married. He said he last saw prostitutes in the area two weeks ago.

Ashley Southall, Al Baker and Ali Winston, , NYTimes, 7 New York Police Officers Arrested in Prostitution and Gambling Investigation, Authorities Say“, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/nyregion/nypd-gambling-prostitution.html

NYPD Officer Tells Men Outside Methadone Clinic: ‘Go Shoot Your F-cking Heroin And Die’

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>ALERT NYC!<br>This officer responded to a minor scuffle at a methadone clinic in SOHO today with his gun out &amp; ready to use on folks seeking help. He then told these human beings to “shoot your fucking heroin and die.” <br>IDENTIFY THIS PIG! <a href=”https://t.co/pGkIQaaJHO”>pic.twitter.com/pGkIQaaJHO</a></p>&mdash; AntifaSevenHills 🏴 (@ash_antifa) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ash_antifa/status/1035654481717997568?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>August 31, 2018</a></blockquote>
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The NYPD says they are looking into a disturbing video showing an officer brandishing his gun and instructing a group of men outside a Methadone clinic in SoHo to, “Go shoot your fucking heroin and die.”

In an 18-second clip circulating on Twitter, the irate officer can be seen drawing his gun on a group near the intersection of Prince and Crosby Street, then telling one man to “take a fucking walk right now.”

“There’s no reason to pull out a gun,” the man replied, prompting the officer to shout, “Go shoot your fucking heroin and die. Alright?”

The altercation occurred around the corner from the Lafayette Medical clinic, which specializes in opioid dependence treatment. The officer was “responding to a minor scuffle,” according to the antifascist-associated account that posted the video to Twitter a few weeks ago.

“IDENTIFY THIS PIG,” the person added.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>&quot;Shoot your fucking heroin and die.&quot; NYPD’s version of community policing. An officer with his gun out screamed this at patients at a methadone clinic after responding to a minor scuffle. This officer should not be on the streets, let alone carrying a gun. <a href=”https://t.co/QG9u4GKzA3″>https://t.co/QG9u4GKzA3</a></p>&mdash; Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ScottHech/status/1038533868540899328?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 8, 2018</a></blockquote>
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The officer’s identity has not yet been revealed. In a statement to Gothamist, a spokesperson for the NYPD said, “The commanding officer has been made aware of the video and is looking into it.” The area where the incident occurred is policed by the NYPD’s 5th Precinct.

An employee at the clinic said that they had seen the video as well, but could not comment further.

The footage has sparked outrage online, with police reform advocates and public defenders questioning why the officer has not been disciplined yet, and whether this qualifies as productive “community policiing.”

“I can only wish my clients’ cases got investigated as thoroughly as allegations of misconduct against police officers,” wrote Rebecca Kavanagh, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society.

We’ve reached out to the Mayor’s Office, and will update if they respond.

, gothamist,com,“NYPD Officer Tells Men Outside Methadone Clinic: ‘Go Shoot Your F-cking Heroin And Die'”, http://gothamist.com/2018/09/10/nypd_methadone_die_video.php

**The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of BRLDF.

NYC has shelled out $384M in 5 years to settle NYPD suits

New York City has shelled out $384 million in taxpayer funds to settle cases of police misconduct over the past five years — and more than half of the suits brought against officers didn’t even go to trial, a Post analysis has found.

Some of the settled cases involved allegations of wrongful imprisonment or police brutality.

But others were seemingly nuisance suits of the kind that Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed in January 2015 to crack down on.

Hizzoner said then that he would aggressively challenge “ambulance-chasing lawyers” who “try to make a buck by gaming the system.

“The court process is long, it’s complicated, it’s costly. But we’ll do that to send a clear message that this has got to stop,” he said.

Several lawyers who regularly file misconduct suits against the NYPD said de Blasio’s edict has led the city’s lawyers to take a tougher stand during negotiations.

But data made public by the city Law Department show the city still struck 530 settlements for $5,000 or less, amounts that plaintiffs’ lawyers described as payments to make “nuisance” cases go away without litigation.

Civil rights lawyer and Pace Law School Professor Randolph McLaughlin — who scored a combined sum of more than $8 million for two men shot by a drunken off-duty cop — said payments in the low four figures were typical for “low-level” misconduct allegations that don’t involve violence or witnesses, such as “a little disrespect, just pushing and shoving.”

In the past five years, the city settled more than half of the 11,404 suits brought against it, giving settlement payouts to approximately 5,800 people.

A majority of the settlements — more than 3,000 — involved payments ranging from $5,001 to $25,000 each, which lawyer Jeffrey Rothman said could cover getting locked up on charges that were later dismissed.

“There’s a basic understanding that, for a night in jail, it’ll be approximately $20,000 — sometimes less and sometimes more,” said Rothman, who filed 64 cases tallied by the Law Department.

And while the city has been driving harder bargains since de Blasio’s pledge, lawyer Eric Siegle, whose firm struck 36 settlements worth a total $3.4 million, said the city’s refusal to make quick deals has also backfired on taxpayers because cops “usually don’t ’fess up to the city lawyers as to what really happened in the case.”

“When we go through discovery, our cases get so much better and so much stronger,” Siegle said.

“We’re getting more money later on — much more than we would have maybe taken at early settlement,” Siegle said, “because the egregious conduct of the police officers that we’re discovering through going the litigation process is much worse than we even anticipated.”

Lawyer Joel Rudin — who last year landed $2.5 million for an ex-Crips gang member who was wrongly convicted of killing a member of the rival Bloods gang — said he understood why the city’s attorneys would challenge legal claims “that they feel are without merit.”

“The problem is that when lawyers bring cases that do have merit, they fight them, too,” Rudin said.

While the majority of settlements was for comparatively small sums, a handful of payments of $1 million or more accounted for nearly $190 million of the total paid out by the city.

Many of those 37 cases involved plaintiffs who had spent decades in prison for wrongful convictions.

The biggest payments, of $13 million each, went last year to Antonio Yarbough and the estate of Abdul Shariff Wilson, who were convicted of stabbing and strangling Yarbough’s mother, his 12-year-old half-sister and the girl’s friend in the family’s Coney Island apartment in 1992.

Both men were freed after DNA testing in 2013 tied fingernail scrapings taken from Yarbough’s mother, Annie, to a still-unidentified male suspect in another slaying in Brooklyn in 1999 — which took place while both Yarbough and Wilson were behind bars.

The men were released in 2014, but Wilson died less than a year later of respiratory problems that his lawyer blamed on his time in prison.

In December, the city also agreed to pay $12.25 million to Andre Hatchett, who was convicted in the fatal 1991 beating of a woman whose body was dragged into a Bedford-Stuyvesant park and posed, naked, as if she’d been crucified — even though Hatchett had a cast on his leg at the time and needed crutches to get around after he was shot the year before.

Hatchett served 25 years in prison — more than half his life — before being released in 2016 at the age of 49 following a review of his case by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.

More recent cases include the wrongful death of Eric Garner from an illegal police chokehold on Staten Island in 2014, and the accidental police shooting death of Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn housing project later that year. Their estates received $5.9 million and $4.5 million, respectively.

At the low end of the scale, the city in March paid $350 to Richard Porrazzo, who used fill-in legal papers to file suit in Manhattan federal court against “Detective Rogers” and other unidentified cops over claims that he was falsely charged with a Bronx burglary while serving time in the Putnam County Jail for violating probation.

In August 2014, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch sent a letter to city Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter and then-Police Commissioner Bill Bratton complaining about the “cottage industry” of filing baseless suits against the NYPD.

“Getting paid to sully the reputation of the officer who arrested you for breaking the law is almost too good to resist,” Lynch wrote.

Nothing came of the union chief’s gripe until the controversy exploded the following January, when The Post published a Page 1 exposé about $5,000 paid to Ruhim Ullah of Brooklyn, who sued over getting shot in the leg by a cop in 2010 — which the NYPD said happened when he refused orders to drop an 18-inch machete.

Ullah, now 27, has since been busted four more times, and currently is facing charges in the July 21 theft of two 24-ounce bottles of Corona Extra beer from a 7-Eleven store on the Lower East Side.

The data were quietly made public under terms of Local Law 166 of 2017, which de Blasio signed in September.

The legislation requires the Law Department to post on its website, twice a year, information about all suits filed against the NYPD during the preceding five years.

The Post found the online spreadsheet riddled with errors, including no entry for a $2.5 million settlement struck in 2014 with Sol Cecilia Reyes over the fatal police shooting of her son, Noel Polanco, during a 2012 traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens.

The law covers only suits filed within the five-year period. So if one is filed previously but later settled, there is no record of it in the spreadsheet.

This includes the $41 million 2014 settlement with five exonerated men in the 1989 rape of a female jogger in Central Park and last year’s $75 million deal to settle a class-action suit alleging that cops issued 900,000 bogus summonses to meet quotas, because those cases were filed before the earliest date in the spreadsheet.

Also not covered — or listed — is a slew of hefty settlements arranged by city Comptroller Scott Stringer before any suits were filed over the cases.

Some involve crimes investigated by disgraced former Brooklyn Detective Louis Scarcella, who is suspected of fabricating evidence in about 50 cases.

The data show that misconduct suits filed against the NYPD have declined steadily from 3,075 in fiscal 2014 to 1,483 in fiscal 2018, a drop of nearly 52 percent.

When the numbers first started falling, experts pointed to the city’s record drop in crime — which has dramatically reduced interactions between cops and suspects — and to de Blasio’s rollback of the NYPD’s use of the stop-and-frisk policy shortly after taking office.

Stringer has also taken credit for preventing suits against the NYPD by negotiating settlements following the filing of notices of claim with his office, which is a prerequisite for suing the city.

A City Hall spokeswoman said that since 2016, when she said de Blasio’s policy went into effect, the number of suits against the NYPD that went to trial increased by 30 percent, showing the city is trying to get tough on frivolous claims.

“While the number of lawsuits continues to decline, we’re taking more cases to trial than ever before to fight for officers,” Hizzoner’s deputy press secretary, Olivia Lapeyrolerie, wrote in an email. “We’ve improved the city’s fact-finding process, filed more motions to dismiss cases and added resources and personnel to reduce settlements.”

Cop sued 20 times over alleged misconduct sees cases against him fall apart

He’s been sued 20 times over alleged police brutality and other misconduct — and portrayed as a prime example of everything that’s wrong with the NYPD.

But following the dismissal of three cases earlier this month, ­Detective David Terrell says he’s living proof that the city’s willingness to settle bogus suits has led to “open season on police officers” in the court system.

“Someone gets arrested, and the arrest doesn’t go through — they sue the cops. And that has an ­effect on your job,” he said.

“Cops are scared to do their jobs.”

Terrell, who’s currently on modified duty over allegations unrelated to any litigation, is also fighting fire with fire.

In April, he filed a sprawling civil-rights suit against defendants including a law firm that has lodged 10 cases against him, and several journalists he says smeared him with false and defamatory reports on the unproven allegations.

Terrell’s Brooklyn federal-court filing also accuses the de Blasio administration of paying $614,500 to settle a 2013 case, in which Terrell was among 11 NYPD defendants, “without consulting him” first.

Court and city records show that four other cases against Terrell were also settled, for amounts ranging from $9,000 — which Terrell’s lawyer called “nuisance-value money” — to $66,000.

Seven suits against Terrell have been dismissed and eight are pending. Most also named other cops as co-defendants.

The dismissed suits include one in which Terrell was accused of beating a prisoner, Anthony Floyd, inside a holding cell, breaking his nose and fracturing his eye socket.

But in an Aug. 2 ruling, Manhattan federal Judge Loretta Preska said the NYPD records Floyd presented as evidence “demonstrate a complete lack of personal involvement by Detective Terrell … and instead demonstrate the involvement of a different police officer.”

“I’ve become such a target that I’m getting sued for making arrests when I wasn’t even on duty or there, period,” Terrell said.

Terrell, who has racked up more than 1,000 arrests since joining the NYPD in 2002, was sued just four times during his first decade on the job.

But he’s been slapped with 13 suits since November 2016, with all but three brought by the Manhattan law firm Nwokoro & Scola.

The firm’s flurry of litigation includes seven suits filed between April and August 2017, three of which were lodged on July 28 of that year.

Terrell blames the barrage on a “cottage industry” of anti-cop litigation fueled by an NYPD cop-turned-private investigator named Manny Gomez, whom Terrell calls “the one main person behind these lawsuits.” Gomez is among the defendants named in Terrell’s civil-rights case.

“He gathered all these guys together with this law firm and they decided to come up with these frivolous lawsuits, and they’d throw it all in the pot and the city would settle,” Terrell said.

“But they never banked on me fighting back.”

Terrell, 45, never planned on becoming a cop.

The older of two boys born to a housing cop and a nurse, his family lived in Laurelton, Queens, until his parents split when he was around 4.

His mom moved him and his brother to Bedford-Stuyvesant, where he spent his preteen years watching the crack epidemic ravage the Brooklyn neighborhood with drug-related violence.

Terrell said his family’s apartment was burglarized six times, and a kid who lived in their building was killed by stray bullets.

“It was very crime-ridden: gunshots all the time,” he recalled.

“It got to the point where they would shoot, and we’d have to go into the closet — me and my brother — and my mom would have to put a refrigerator in front of the closet door so we wouldn’t get hit.”

When he was 14, his mom remarried and the family moved to Freeport, LI.

“There was no violence,” he said. “That was the first time I was actually ever around any ethnicity outside of black; the first time I was around white or Chinese. It was a bit of culture shock.”

He graduated Baldwin HS and then attended Queensborough Community College and then Albany State University in Georgia.

For four years after that, he traveled around playing basketball for $600 a game before blowing out his achilles tendon.

He was looking for work when the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks changed everything.

“I spoke to my dad, and he was telling me to take the test to become a police officer,” Terrell said.

“I said, ‘I don’t want to be no pig’ … but it was so hard to find a job during 9/11, so I took the test for corrections and NYPD — and NYPD called first.”

He was assigned to Bed-Stuy’s 77th Precinct, where he took part in then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s “Operation Impact” initiative, which flooded high-crime streets with 1,000 uniformed cops.

He later transferred to the 42nd Precinct in The Bronx, moved to Rockland County — and was promoted to detective in 2015.

The following year, Terrell was slapped with the first of 13 ­rapid-fire lawsuits.

Much of the litigation was filed by or on behalf of teens and young men Terrell claims in court papers are members of gangs, including the Lyman Place Crew, the Hill Top Crew and the B-Road Goons.

One suit was filed by Kenny Shenery, who was playing dice with friends outside a Bronx building on May 18, 2015, when a uniformed Terrell and his partner cuffed Shenery and tossed him in the back of a squad car for playing his car stereo too loudly.

Cellphone video shows Terrell joining the dice game, with Shenery claiming that Terrell offered to release him if Terrell lost — only to renege on the deal and lock him up for 48 hours.

Shenery, who was wanted on a bench warrant, later pleaded guilty to a noise summons, but he sued Terrell in 2017, following a TV news report that included the video of Terrell shooting dice.

Terrell said “rolling dice with some of the worst guys in the neighborhood” led him to solve a series of robberies with the help of “one of the guys in the video.”

He noted, “That is community policing.”

This month, Manhattan federal Judge Lorna Schofield tossed the case, saying Shenery’s guilty plea and warrant justified his arrest and imprisonment.

Another suit was filed by Shawn Nardoni, who was shot in the leg by an assailant on Sept. 1, 2015, then arrested when he got out of the hospital.

Nardoni, then 15, was brought to the 42nd Precinct station house, where he claims Terrell “badgered” him to give up the identity of the shooter, including a threat to kick his head through a wall.

Nardoni’s suit accused Terrell of falsely arresting him, but Manhattan federal Judge Gregory Woods dismissed the case this month, saying that while it’s “undisputed” that Terrell interviewed Nardoni, he “has developed no further facts … to suggest the detective was the driving force behind his arrest.”

Nardoni’s shooting was ultimately alleged to have been committed by Pedro Hernandez, who has two suits pending against Terrell.

Hernandez — who is identified in his suits as “P.P.H.” — became a cause célèbre for bail reform when he turned down a no-jail plea deal and spent a year on Rikers Island until a human-rights group posted $100,000 to bail him out in July 2017.

In October, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark dropped all charges against Hernandez, citing “inconsistent and contradictory” evidence and saying “the victim of the shooting is unable to identify who shot him.”

Modal TriggerPedro Hernandez
Pedro HernandezDavid McGlynn

Clark also alluded to Hernandez’s allegations about Terrell by saying she “will not tolerate misconduct by law enforcement” and noting that her Public Integrity Bureau was “investigating allegations related to this matter.”

Hernandez is awaiting trial in a 2015 knifepoint robbery.

Two other pending suits were filed by Salim Wilson and ­Julio Velasquez, two Bronx buddies who wound up on opposite sides of a gun, with Wilson allegedly killing Velasquez in the McKinley Houses on Aug. 29, 2017.

Law enforcement sources have said the fatal dispute involved roughly $30,000 each man was advanced by the Brooklyn-based LawCash firm against potential settlement of their cases.

Terrell’s civil-rights suit names LawCash among the dozen-plus defendants, claiming that the firm is part of a conspiracy to destroy him that also involves Nwokoro & Scola; Gomez; activist and writer Shaun King; and TV reporters Sarah Wallace of NBC-4 and Jay Dow and James Ford of PIX-11.

LawCash co-founder and CEO Dennis Shields, the on-again, off-again boyfriend of reality star Bethenny Frankel, died of a suspected prescription-drug overdose in his Trump Tower apartment on Aug. 10.

Terrell has been stripped of his badge and gun since July 2006, when he allegedly failed to notify brass about an order of protection filed against him by his now ex-wife.

Other disciplinary charges were added over a dispute with an NYPD highway cop and Terrell’s challenge to fight the cop at an unofficial police boxing match called a “smoker” — and an inspection that found Terrell’s handgun a bullet short of loaded.

“It was one bad month I had,” Terrell admitted.

He now works security at Manhattan Criminal Court while awaiting a verdict in his NYPD trial.

Terrell’s lawyer, ex-NYPD cop Eric Sanders, is highly critical of Police Commissioner James O’Neill’s response to the lawsuits.

“O’Neill did not support him. He didn’t do the right thing for his employee. It’s disgraceful,” Sanders said.

“[Terrell] did the job, he exceeded at it and took all these dangerous gang members off the street, and this is the thanks he gets? They left him out to dry.”

Gomez denied any wrongdoing, saying, “My work speaks for itself … There is nothing shady. I have relationships with all attorneys.”

City Hall spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said: “This administration has improved the city’s fact-finding process, filed more motions to dismiss cases, and added resources and personnel to reduce settlements and challenge more frivolous allegations.”

PIX owner Tribune Media said Terrell’s allegations “have no merit and we will vigorously defend the suit,” and court papers say LawCash’s parent “intends to move to dismiss the claims.”

The NYPD declined to comment and Nwokoro & Scola, King and NBC-4 didn’t return inquiries.