The New York City Police Department had a string of bad news stories over the past week. They settled a court case over illegal Muslim surveillance, paying millions in the process. A leaker revealed the disciplinary records of the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner, Daniel Pantaleo, giving the police department another black eye. And another bad cop, Richard Haste who killed Bronx teen Ramarley Graham, was allowed to resign rather than be fired.
Expect more pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Police Commissioner James O’Neil to change how the NYPD operates.
No More Illegal Muslim Surveillance
Last week, the New York Police Department agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle an anti-discrimination suit for spying on Muslim-Americans. They also appointed a retired judge to oversee the department and make sure they don’t violate any laws. The settlement also specifically requires the NYPD to provide “articulable and factual information” about possible crimes before the NYPD can investigate political or religious groups and bans investigations motivated by race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.
It’s troubling that those rules weren’t in place before but better late than never.
Eric Garner Cop Had a Record, Leaker Gets Punished
That settlement came the same day ThinkProgress released the disciplinary records of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo who killed Eric Garner with a fatal chokehold after a stop-and-frisk in 2014. The records detail eight complaints of abuse, including multiple for stopping and searching people, putting Pantaleo among the worst 2% of officers. The NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board advised the NYPD to give Pantaleo the highest level of penalties, which could have led to him being fired. Instead, the NYPD decided to fine him just two vacation days. Pantaleo also got a raise since Eric Garner’s death.
While the US Attorney may be moving towards charging Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner. So far, however, the only people who have gotten in trouble are the investigator who was forced to resign after leaking the disciplinary records and Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed Eric Garner’s death, who was sentenced to four years in prison for unrelated drugs and weapons charges.
Another Bad Cop Gets Away
NYPD officer Richard Haste shot and killed Ramarley Graham, a Bronx teenager, in front of his family in 2012. The proceedings around the incident are finally over as Haste resigned from the NYPD this weekend rather than be fired. Haste was initially charged for criminal manslaughter but the case was dismissed because of a procedural error and prosecutors did not charge him again. On Friday, the NYPD disciplinary trial recommended Haste’s termination but he was allowed to resign instead.
With the 2017 Mayoral Election coming up, look for louder calls to reform the police department. Bill de Blasio ran in 2013 on ending stop-and-frisk and he claimed a victory on that. However, some of his loudest backers feel that the Mayor has let them down on broader changes to the NYPD. He’s going to have a tough balancing act keeping them happy without angering police officers and their supporters.
Update 5/10/17: The recent scandals around Corrections Commissioner Joe Ponte and his administration of Rikers Island are more bad news for law enforcement.