Janine Jackson: In March of this year, John Miller—then deputy commissioner of intelligence and counter-terrorism for the New York Police Department—told a New York City Council meeting that “there is no evidence” that the NYPD surveilled Muslim communities in the wake of September 11, 2001—”based,” he said, “on every objective study that’s been done.” At that point, media had extensively documented the unconstitutional discrimination of the NYPD’s so-called “Demographics Unit,” including installing police cameras outside mosques, and reporting store owners who had visible Qurans or religious calendars. And the NYPD had agreed to disband the unit in the face of multiple federal lawsuits.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has opened an investigation into the New York City Police Department’s sex crimes unit. “Over the last several months, we have learned concerning information from a variety of sources of historical issues about the way the Special Victims Division has conducted its investigations for many years,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York in a Justice Department statement announcing the probe. The investigation will assess whether the Special Victims Division (SVD) engages in a “pattern or practice of gender-biased policing.”
We already know the case of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is an anomaly. Officers who kill civilians are rarely prosecuted, let alone convicted — many aren’t even disciplined by their departments. To understand how police impunity works, it’s worth looking at another case, that of Kawaski Trawick. Two years ago, Trawick was alone in his apartment in the Bronx when two New York City Police Department officers arrived in response to 911 calls about Trawick walking through the building with a serrated bread knife and a stick. Trawick, who had a history of mental health and drug issues, had locked himself out of his apartment but had gotten back in after firefighters pried open the door.
This summer in New York City was defined by protests. The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer drew hundreds of thousands into the streets in late May and early June, demonstrations that were fueled by violent confrontations with the NYPD in Union Square and downtown Brooklyn. On May 29, Officer Vincent D’Andraia was filmed throwing Dounya Zayer to the ground and calling her a “stupid fucking bitch.” Zayer suffered a concussion from the incident and also said she later had seizures .
More than 100 protesters and legal observers trapped by police in the NYPD’s violent ambush of a peaceful march in the Bronx earlier this summer are now planning to sue the city, after Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to discipline any of the officers involved in the mass arrest. At least 107 people have filed notices of claim with the city indicating their intent to sue over the police department’s actions in Mott Haven on June 4th, Gothamist has learned. The bulk of the notices were delivered this week, which marked 90 days since the night of the incident, the cutoff for initiating legal action.
Trawick’s entire interaction with police in The Bronx on April 14, 2019, lasted only a few minutes before an officer fired four shots, killing him. Trawick had himself called 911 after getting locked out of his Morris Heights apartment with food on the stove, according to the FDNY. Firefighters came and helped break his door open, in an otherwise uneventful interchange, fire officials have said. But only minutes later, police arrived, responding to calls from the superintendent and a security guard saying Trawick had been harassing neighbors at the city-funded supportive housing building. After the officers talked with Trawick for less than two minutes, they tased him, police said. He fell and, as the officers moved to arrest him, police allege he got up, threatened them and charged. Thompson fired his gun four times, hitting Trawick twice, killing him.
The failed NYPD raid that brought riot cops, police dogs and helicopters to a prominent Black Lives Matter activist's home on Friday was sparked by his alleged crime of shouting into an officer's ear with a megaphone nearly two months ago. Derrick Ingram, the 28-year-old co-founder of the Warriors in the Garden collective, said he awoke to cops with the NYPD's warrant squad banging at his door at 7 a.m. on Friday. For the next five hours, dozens of officers — stationed outside Ingram's apartment in Hell's Kitchen, on his fire escape and in a neighboring unit — urged him to surrender, claiming they had a warrant, but declining to provide one.
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.
NYPD officers dragged a protest leader into an unmarked minivan van and doused onlookers with pepper spray during an anti-police brutality march in Manhattan on Tuesday night. The individual, who friends identified as an 18-year-old trans woman named Nicki, was grabbed from the group by plainclothes officers at 25th Street and Second Avenue. Video shows a man in an orange shirt marked "Warrant Squad" helping to push the woman into a silver KIA minivan before driving away. Witnesses said the arrest came as roughly 200 people were leaving a small plaza on 26th Street where they had stopped for a skateboarding event, amid a planned 24-hour demonstration against the NYPD and the raid of City Hall earlier this month. "Suddenly there was an unmarked grey van that moved out in front of us that had been waiting for us," said Derrick, a 32-year-old protester, who declined to give his last name. "Four guys jumped out and a line of police bicycles came out from down the block...
Until last month, New York state prohibited the release of police officers’ disciplinary records. Civilians’ complaints of abuse by officers were a secret. So were investigators’ conclusions. The public couldn’t even know if an officer was punished. Today, we are making this information public and, with it, providing an unprecedented picture of civilians’ complaints of abuse by NYPD officers as well as the limits of the current system that is supposed to hold officers accountable. We’ve published a database that lets you search the police complaints so you can see the information for yourself. Data experts can also download the data.
NYPD officers arrested and pepper-sprayed protesters at the Queer Liberation March Sunday afternoon while attempting to arrest two people for graffiti, according to witnesses. Numerous videos shared on social media show a crowd of officers shoving outraged protesters where arrests were being made near Washington Square Park. As two were being arrested for graffiti, protesters intervened in an attempt to free them, at which point police responded with pepper spray, multiple witnesses told Gothamist. A legal observer said at least four people were arrested and 10 others pepper-sprayed—including someone running a fruit stand nearby protesters.
NYPD Enforcement Of Low-Level Offenses Accounts For Huge Department Expenditures, Racial Disparities
New York City criminalizes drugs and low-level broken windows offenses at a startling rate, with enforcement in these areas accounting for a vast proportion of the NYPD’s policing activities and the city’s budget, according to a new brief from Drug Policy Alliance. DPA released the brief in support of the Communities United for Police Reform coalition call for Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Council to cut the FY21 NYPD expense budget by $1 billion and redirect savings to core needs in Black, Latinx and other NYC communities of color that have long been the target of the drug war and racist policing. The brief, “NYC’s Costly Drug Enforcement & Broken Windows Policing,” finds that in 2019, NYC spent an estimated $96 million enforcing drug arrests and violations, and an estimated $456 million enforcing low-level broken windows offenses, which accounted for 28.5% of all NYPD arrests and violations issued for the year.
On Thursday evening before curfew, Rex Santus was standing alone on a quiet Mott Haven street corner when he caught the attention of NYPD officers passing in an unmarked minivan. As eight officers surrounded him, the 28-year-old CUNY law student identified himself as a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild, and explained his intention to monitor a nearby protest against racist police brutality. The officers accused him of “illegal counter-surveillance against police,” Santus said. They seized his notebook, reading from it and mocking him for writing that some cops had obscured their badge numbers. As the officers feigned ignorance about the role of legal observers, Santus recalled, an apparent warning blared from their police radios: “A lot of LOs out tonight.”
On a late March night in 2016, Jeremy Turnbull stood outside a friend’s apartment building in the Bronx’s Morris Heights neighborhood. Turnbull, then 25 years old, was frustrated. He had taken a cab to pick up his girlfriend and persuaded the driver to wait until she came outside. As Turnbull paced in front of the building, an unmarked police car approached. What happened next is disputed by defense attorneys and police. Police told prosecutors they approached the cab because it was double parked. Officer Valdrin Niqki said that when he got out of his patrol vehicle, he saw a bulge in Turnbull’s leather jacket—from 10 feet away.