Written by Ronemus & Vilensky on May 5, 2022
Police brutality, police misconduct, excessive force, shootings, false arrests, and police corruption are all front-and-center issues, making headline news and putting the spotlight on police departments throughout the country including the New York police department. In 2021, for example, 65 NYPD officers faced misconduct charges stemming from alleged actions taken during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. More than five dozen police officers identified by the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) faced charges of abuse of authority, excessive use of force, making untruthful statements and using offensive language.
Police Misconduct Cases, Excessive Force Cases
Examples of police brutality cases NYC, excessive force, and other serious crimes include the following:
Last summer a 29-year-old black man in New York was tasered by a police officer as he was making his way onto the subway station. The arresting officer involved claimed that while the man paid for his fare, he helped another rider avoid paying for the trip. He was met with a huge display of force and shot with a stun gun. The man was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and menacing, as well as second-degree harassment of the officers, but not fare evasion.
In 2019, ex-convict Allan Feliz was shot dead by cops on Oct. 17 in the Bronx during a traffic stop over seat belts. Feliz’s family brought a $350 million potential class action lawsuit against the city and the NYPD for an alleged pattern of racial profiling and excessive use of force. New York state Attorney General Letitia James did not file charges against the NYPD sergeant for fatally shooting Feliz.
“I Can’t Breathe”
The Staten Island case of Eric Garner who died from a chokehold by a police officer in 2014 riveted the nation. Officers pinned Garner to the ground, as he repeatedly told them, “I can’t breathe.” He eventually lost consciousness. An hour later, he was pronounced dead at a hospital, and the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide by suffocation. Footage of the criminal act went viral.
When New York State repealed its ban on publicizing police disciplinary records, it was revealed that one of the New York city police officers, Daniel Pantaleo, had been investigated for misconduct seven times in the five years before Garner’s death. Police officer Pantaleo was eventually fired from the force. Former Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill’s decision to dismiss the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, came five years after Garner’s death. A grand jury, however, declined to indict NYPD officer Pantelo over the chokehold and death of Garner.
Garner’s family sued New York City for wrongful death and settled for $5.9 million in 2015. In 2021, the family accused city officials, including then Mayor de Blasio and former police commissioners, of neglecting to fully investigate their son’s fatal 2014 arrest, which prompted a judicial inquiry. The intent of the suit is to put police brutality in the public domain.
In the George Floyd case, in which there were officers arrested, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder. In a federal trial, civil rights attorneys successfully proved that the three officers who were with Chauvin when he held his knee on Floyd were guilty of violating the victim’s constitutional rights.
Police Assault Complaints
Police sexual assault is also an issue. Unfortunately, police perpetrators often are not held accountable. A hearing at the CCRB took place last year to listen to public comments on proposed rules that would give the board power to probe complaints ranging from verbal harassment to rape by NYPD officers. The proposed new rules come three years after the board attempted to police NYPD sexual misconduct for the first time, only to be thwarted by a lawsuit filed by police unions.
Since the CCRB began tracking sexual misconduct complaints in 2016, it fielded some 217 accusations as of May 2020. According to CCRB data, about 37% of those claims were for verbal sexual harassment, 25% for sexual humiliation, and 23% for a sexual proposition. More serious allegations of assault have been referred to local district attorneys and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau. Between February 2018 and May 2020 alone, the CCRB made 158 referrals. Of them, 19 went to Bronx DA Darcel Clark; 23 to Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez; 15 to Manhattan DA Cy Vance; eight to the Queens DA, currently Melinda Katz; and three to Staten Island DA Michael McMahon, according to the CCRB. (Source: The City)
Law Firm Helps Victims
New York City lawyers Ronemus & Vilensky assist victims in police brutality, misconduct, false arrest and other police-related incidents. Civil rights attorney Robert Vilensky, in fact, is representing Allan Feliz’s family in the case against the city and the NYPD. We provide free consultation and are experienced and successful in achieving justice, settlement payouts and monetary awards for damages.