NYPD Misconduct Lawsuits Have Already Cost NYC Taxpayers $40 Million This Year

JULY 31, 2019

NYPD officers arrest a man at a <a href="http://gothamist.com/2016/07/08/nyc_police_shooting_protest.php#photo-1">protest against police brutality</a> SCOTT HEINS / GOTHAMIST
NYPD officers arrest a man at a protest against police brutality SCOTT HEINS / GOTHAMIST

New York City taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $40 million in settlements paid out to victims of alleged police misconduct in the first half of this year—a spike of more than 50 percent since last year.

The newly released data, which the city is required to publish twice a year, shows that 716 civil misconduct suits were filed against 996 members of the NYPD since the start of 2019. While those figures are broadly consistent with previous intervals, an analysis by the Legal Aid Society found that the cost of settlements has ballooned this year: $38,307,944 was paid out in the first six months of this year, compared to roughly $24 million over the same time period in 2018.

The biggest settlement of 2019 thus far was awarded to the so-called “Bronx Rapist,” who was arrested by NYPD officers and spent eight years in prison before he was exonerated in 2014. Many of the other lawsuits were the result of more recent misconduct incidents, including alleged instances of excessive force, wrongful arrest and imprisonment, assault, and malicious prosecution.

The city has settled 72 percent of the lawsuits filed against the police department this year, a slight increase from 2018.

The data excludes cases filed prior to fiscal year 2015, which could partially account for the apparent growth in settlements. Unlike NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s annual claims report, the Law Department does not include notices of claim that are settled by the city prior to litigation. Factoring in those claims, the city paid out a whopping $230 million for NYPD misconduct last year, according to the Comptroller’s latest report.

Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at the Legal Aid Society, said the settlement figures suggested the NYPD isn’t doing enough about its own members’ misconduct. “These numbers will remain high unless the NYPD seriously revamps its disciplinary process so that officers who engage in this conduct receive more than just a slap on the wrist,” she said.

According to a report issued earlier this year from the Department of Investigation, the NYPD has rejected many of the reforms pushed by its own Inspector General’s Office, including recommendations relevant to use-of-force incidents.

A recent review of NYPD misconduct records showed that the department continues to employ officers who’ve been sued dozens of times, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer settlements.

“New Yorkers would be better served by police if the NYPD seriously focused on curbing rampant and systemic misconduct—which continues to cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year—instead of spearheading efforts to criminalize water splashing,” Luongo added.

A spokesperson for the NYPD did not respond to Gothamist’s inquiries.


JULY 31, 2019. Gothamist.com, “NYPD Misconduct Lawsuits Have Already Cost NYC Taxpayers $40 Million This Year”, https://gothamist.com/2019/07/31/police_misconduct_lawsuits_taxpayers.php


City settles police misconduct lawsuit after new evidence surfaces — again


police tape

Sun-Times file photo

27 years locked up for a crime he didn’t commit

Donald Gates at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., this month. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

November 22, 2015

THE DISTRICT of Columbia’s agreement to pay $16.65 million to settle the federal civil rights lawsuit of a man who spent 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit should not be the end of this troubling case. That a jury found there to be egregious police misconduct demands rigorous review of other cases handled by the detectives involved, to ensure there haven’t been similar miscarriages of justice. Also needed is resolve by prosecutors and others in the criminal justice system to tackle the systemic issues that contribute to wrongful convictions.

Donald E. Gates, 64, wrongly imprisoned for the 1981 rape and murder of a college student, reached the settlement with the city a day after a jury found he had been framed by two D.C. homicide detectives, now retired. A confession supposedly made by Mr. Gates to a police informant had, the jury determined, been fabricated, and exculpatory information was improperly withheld from his defense. It was that false confession — supplied by an informant known by police to be “treacherous” and unreliable — along with bogus hair analysis from the FBI that formed the basis for Mr. Gates’s conviction; DNA testing later exonerated him in the death of Catherine Schilling.

Just as the U.S. Attorney’s Office ordered wide-ranging reinvestigation of defendants convicted with the use of flawed FBI hair matches after the problems became apparent, so must it review other homicide cases investigated by the detectives implicated in the Gates case. Testimony revealed not only that Ronald S. Taylor and Norman Brooks exhibited tunnel vision that fixated on Mr. Gates as a suspect to the exclusion of others (which would have been bad enough), but also that they actively conspired to deprive him of his constitutional rights. Mr. Taylor was one of two top detectives in the homicide unit and, according to his testimony in Mr. Gates’s case, handled hundreds of cases. More reason for U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips to order an audit of their work.

In addition, we hope the outcome of this case — which underscored long-held and well-documented concerns about the reliability of government informants — gives pause to police and prosecutors and prompts them to put in place protections that guard against the problems that lead to wrongful convictions. Most needed are changes giving defense attorneys fuller information, so that if there are mistakes, it doesn’t take 27 years to uncover them.


, “27 years locked up for a crime he didn’t commit”, November 22, 2015, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/27-years-locked-up-for-a-crime-he-didnt-commit/2015/11/22/0e6f2e04-8efd-11e5-acff-673ae92ddd2b_story.html