NYPD Kelly’s Emails Deleted Before He Left Office
Above Photo: JULIA XANTHOS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly accidentally deleted emails from his desktop server at the end of his tenure.
Press delete. Then repeat.
Most of former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s emails on his desktop computer were deleted at the end of his tenure despite an order they be preserved for a high-stakes class-action suit alleging a summons quota system within the department.
New filings in Manhattan Federal Court show the city backtracking in an ongoing fight over Kelly’s missing electronic correspondence.
“The majority of former Commissioner Kelly’s locally stored emails were inadvertently deleted at the conclusion of his tenure,” city attorney Curt Beck wrote to Manhattan Federal Judge Robert Sweet.
The city only recently learned of the mistakenly destroyed data, according to documents filed Wednesday.
“The deletion was not done intentionally,” city lawyers alleged in court papers.
There’s no indication Kelly ordered emails deleted, or deleted them himself.
A “litigation hold” on documents and correspondence related to the class-action suit went into effect when the case was filed in May 2010. But that hold was not disseminated “more widely,” so Kelly’s technology staff mistakenly scrubbed an unknown number of his emails, the city said.
Kelly has previously said under oath that he rarely used email in the first place and preferred in-person meetings and phone calls. The city maintained “the maximum universe of email at issue remains minimal, at best.”
Following inquiries from the Daily News the city submitted an 11th-hour letter to Sweet late Thursday clarifying the meaning of “locally stored emails.”
The new document said such emails were “greater than three years old or otherwise selected for archiving” and may have been stored on a desktop computer rather than a network.
An NYPD official said Kelly’s desktop computer was swapped out for a new one sometime in 2013, resulting in the possible loss of the emails he may have sent.
“This was not intended to be a big deal because it’s not a big deal,” the official said.
But an attorney for the plaintiff, Elinor Sutton, wasn’t satisfied with the explanation.
“Within a two-day period the city has changed its story twice,” Sutton said. “The city has still not provided a coherent story as to why it has not produced a single email from Ray Kelly’s file.”
She had fired back in previous filings that Kelly provided “demonstrably false information” about his email habits.
Kelly’s spokeswoman Anne Reingold told The News that the city’s initial letter was inaccurate.
The city also argued that any relevant emails Kelly sent could still be obtained by searching the servers of people with whom he corresponded.
“If it’s true, it’s a disgrace,” said Robert Gangi, a police reform advocate who has organized forums on alleged NYPD quotas.
“It continues the ongoing legacy of the NYPD … of maintaining a lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to making public information about policy and practice.”
The stunning disclosure about Kelly’s deleted emails could potentially impact other lawsuits involving NYPD policy during Kelly’s tenure, attorney Nat Smith said.
“No member of the public is going to believe just before he leaves office — whoops — his staff deletes his emails!” railed Smith, who represented Adrian Schoolcraft, an NYPD whistleblower who alleged a quota system in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct.
Smith is not involved in the summons case.
The deleted emails could also be used against Kelly should he pursue a run for mayor.
The News reported in July the NYPD allegedly destroyed documents regarding summonses during Kelly’s tenure.
The evidence could be relevant in the lawsuit charging the NYPD issued 850,000 bogus summonses since 2007 due to a quota system.
Sutton has asked Sweet to impose sanctions against the city for the allegedly missing evidence.
A Law Department spokesman pointed to the city’s argument that sanctions would require evidence that emails were destroyed intentionally.
“There was no overt act,” an NYPD official said.
The latest revelation in the case comes after Kelly lobbed a bombshell at his successor, Commissioner Bill Bratton, charging the city’s top cop is manipulating shooting stats to make New York appear safer.
Bratton fired back that Kelly should “be a big man” and provide proof of the allegation.
Both men have been accused in the past of fudging crime stats.