Current NYPD Officers With The Most Substantiated Misconduct Complaints
Above photo: By Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Approximately four thousand of the NYPD’s 36,000 active officers have at least one substantiated complaint of police misconduct, according to data from the Civilian Complaint Review Board published by ProPublica on Sunday.
Gothamist/WNYC has identified seven officers in the CCRB’s data set with substantiated allegations in at least six separate complaints—the most of all current NYPD officers. All enjoyed high-ranking positions as of last month, according to the dataset. All are white men. Some have been the subject of extensive news coverage.
We have reached out to each officer named here individually and through their unions. Some did not reply and others referred us to the NYPD or their union.
“The NYPD has for many years worked to increase transparency to gain the trust of the communities we serve,” the department said in a statement, when asked specifically about these officers.
A representative for Mayor Bill de Blasio did not respond to a request for comment.
Michael Raso: 14 Substantiated Allegations in 8 Separate Complaints
In 2008, Michael Raso was accused of pointing his gun at a 22-year-old Black man during a stop in the North Bronx. The CCRB investigated and substantiated that complaint, recommending “command discipline” for the then 27-year-old police officer. Instead, the NYPD opted to give him “instruction,” the least severe form of discipline, intended for those who “misunderstand a policy.”
Over the next twelve years, the CCRB substantiated seven more complaints against Raso — the most of any police officer in the database. On three separate occasions, the CCRB found he had abused his authority during vehicular stops. Each time the CCRB recommended he face departmental charges that could have resulted in a suspension or termination. But in each case, the police department let him off with either “instruction,” or no penalty at all.
Raso has also been named in three civil misconduct suits since 2014. During a 2013 arrest, Raso was accused of violently removing a man from a cab and falsely accusing him of having a gun (the man was later acquitted of all charges). The city settled the suit for $62,500, according to CAPstat. Typically, the city settles these cases without admitting liability.
Despite more than 18 CCRB investigations into his conduct, Raso has steadily risen through the ranks of the NYPD. He was promoted to sergeant and then lieutenant in the North Bronx’s 47th precinct, and recently transferred to the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group, a controversial unit tasked with policing protests, counterterrorism investigations, and gang operations. The SRG has been involved in some of the NYPD’s most brutal crackdowns against recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
Raso took home $195,000 in total compensation in 2018, the most recent year that data is available.
David Leonardi: 11 Substantiated Allegations in 7 Separate Complaints
Five of Lieutenant Leonardi’s incidents of substantiated misconduct were determined by the CCRB between 2014 and 2015 when he was a sergeant in Bedford Stuyvesant, a gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn that has historically suffered underinvestment and high rates of crime. Most of these complaints came from Black residents upset about stops, frisks, and strip searches. Over the course of his career, the CCRB recommended Leonardi be brought up on departmental charges, its most serious determination, five separate times. But the NYPD has the final say, and the most discipline Leonardi ever faced was lost vacation days, according to the database.
In a 2015 lawsuit, a man named Jason Crushshon accused Leonardi and several other officers of an unprovoked assault during a drug arrest the previous year in Bedford-Stuyvesant. According to court documents, Crushshon was taken to Woodhull Hospital, where he received five stitches on his head. The case settled for $40,000. Since then, Leonardi has risen to become a lieutenant in Queens’ 103rd precinct, according to the CCRB database. Leonardi made over $109,000 in 2018, according to CAPstat. Reached by phone, Leonardi declined comment.
Joseph Tallarine, 23 Substantiated Allegations in 6 Separate Complaints
Over his 34-year career at the NYPD, Detective Tallarine has been the subject of CCRB complaints for use of force, discourtesy, and use of racist language. Records show that only Black New Yorkers have filed complaints against Tallarine. The most recent of those substantiated complaints occurred in 2004, for abuse of authority. For that complaint, Tallarine was punished with “instruction.” The CCRB records do not show any other form of discipline.
In 2014, now-Detective Tallarine was named in a lawsuit filed by Clarence Bailey, who was wrongfully convicted of a 2007 attempted murder, and was released from prison in 2013. Bailey’s lawyers claimed that Tallarine and two other NYPD officers from Brooklyn’s 83rd Precinct had “threatened” a witness with parole revocation if he did not testify that Bailey was to blame. After recounting the many previous scandals coming out of the 83rd Precinct, Bailey’s attorneys wrote that prosecutors had failed to provide evidence to Bailey’s original defense attorneys that “Tallarine…had a history of dishonesty and poor judgement.”
The city settled the case for $750,000. Tallarine is named in two other lawsuits that the city settled for a total of $125,000, according to CAPstat.
Detective Tallarine received $186,000 in total compensation in 2018, and is currently on the board of the Detectives’ Endowment Association.
Christopher McCormack: 16 Substantiated Allegations in 6 Separate Complaints
In February of 2013, Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack advised a subordinate to specifically stop “male Blacks” in Mott Haven in the Bronx. The officer, NYPD whistleblower Pedro Serrano, was recording him, and his tape soon sparked a scandal over the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk program. But previously, secret CCRB investigations had provided warning signs for years before. Between 2004 and 2010, the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated complaints against McCormack over inappropriate stops and frisks of Black and Latino men at least three times. The most discipline he ever received was instructions from a supervisor. Two months after Serrano’s secret recording was played publicly at a trial, the CCRB substantiated another inappropriate stop and frisk of the then Bronx commander for which he received no discipline.
Daniel Sbarra: 16 Substantiated Allegations in 6 Separate Complaints
A longtime member of the notorious Brooklyn North Narcotics team, Daniel Sbarra has been the subject of 16 allegations proven by the CCRB. In one 2004 incident, a Black barbershop owner said that he was driving home from work in Bushwick when Sbarra and another officer dragged him out of his vehicle, demanded to know “where are the drugs and guns at,” and called him the n-word. The officers, who were driving in an unmarked car, wore black tape over their badges and refused to identify themselves as police, according to the barbershop owner, who was eventually released without any citation.
The CCRB investigated and substantiated the complaint, and Sbarra was ultimately found guilty by the Deputy Commissioner of Trials. Records show he was docked two vacation days for the offense.
NYPD release records show Daniel Sbarra had 75 complaints! (And sued 15 times). He used N-Word & beat people. He was promoted to Lt. After NYDN expose, he still kept full $102,000yr salary. His OT alone totaled $40K in 2011. This is not fixable #DefundNYPD https://t.co/JV7FAvCsMh
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) July 26, 2020
After his promotion to lieutenant in 2013, the Daily News ran a lengthy investigation into Sbarra’s history of misconduct, which found that allegations of unprovoked violence, intimidation and racial profiling had cost city taxpayers nearly $500,000. In response to that investigation, Sbarra was reportedly transferred to desk duty, where he was permitted to keep his $102,000 salary but “expected to make less overtime.”
Both Sbarra’s salary and overtime have steadily increased in the years since. In 2018, he took home a $125,000 salary, along with more than $45,000 in overtime. He has not been investigated by the CCRB since 2012.
Mathew Reich, 7 Substantiated Allegations in 6 Separate Complaints
Reich spent his early years as a young police officer in East New York, a working-class Brooklyn community that has historically suffered high rates of violent crime. There in the 75th precinct, he only received two complaints, one of which was substantiated in 2005 for a stop and refusal to provide his shield number. The department gave him instructions for that finding, though the CCRB pushed for charges. As Reich transitioned into South Brooklyn’s narcotics unit, he began to attract far more complaints for vehicle searches, strip searches, and use of force. Narcotics policing can lead to numerous tense encounters with residents, and nearly all of these accusations were unsubstantiated. But later, after joining Staten Island’s narcotics unit, he began to receive substantiated determinations. Between 2013 and 2016, residents accused Reich of unjustified vehicle stops, excessive force, and other violations. Of the five complaints that the CCRB substantiated during this period, Reich’s only punishments were command discipline and formalized training.
Detective Reich has also been named in twenty-one lawsuits, which cost the city over $700,000 according to CAPstat. In a 2014 lawsuit, a man said he was inside a car with a friend at a street corner when Reich and other officers allegedly approached them, guns drawn. Police ordered the pair out of the vehicle. The man claimed that police threw them to the ground, kicking and punching them. Afterwards, the suit alleged, Reich falsely swore that the man had been transferring pills to a friend. The man claimed he had gotten the pills with a valid prescription, but had been beaten when he had tried to explain this to the officers. The man refused to plead guilty and prosecutors dropped the charges a few months later.
Reich received $142,000 in total compensation in 2018, including more than $47,000 in overtime.
Robert Henderson, 21 Substantiated Allegations in 6 Separate Complaints
Since starting his career at the NYPD in 1997, Lieutenant Henderson has been the subject of six separate substantiated complaints from the CCRB for discourtesy, improper use of physical force, and abuse of authority. The complaints contain 44 total allegations — 21 of them substantiated — related to stops and searches of people and their property, as are the 12 lawsuits that name Lieutenant Henderson as a defendant. According to CAPstat, the City has paid out at least $278,000 to settle those lawsuits, and several remain pending (the Daily News pegged the actual figure at “more than $500,000.”)
One CCRB complaint in 2003 involved a 27-year-old Black man in the 67th Precinct in Brooklyn, who complained that Lieutenant Henderson abused his authority and used improper force. Henderson was docked 10 vacation days. For other substantiated complaints, he was given “instruction,” the least severe form of discipline, intended for those who “misunderstand a policy.” In at least three of the complaints that the CCRB substantiated against Lieutenant Henderson, the NYPD found him “not guilty” and did not issue punishment, according to the CCRB’s records.
Lieutenant Henderson received more than $185,000 in compensation in 2018, including more than $43,000 in overtime.
Help us hold the NYPD accountable—tell us about your encounters with the NYPD. An encounter with a certain officer that didn’t seem right? Certain cops who have a bad reputation in your community? Gothamist/WNYC is working with THE CITY, ProPublica and The Marshall Project to pool our collective resources to share disciplinary records with you.