October 9, 2014

The NYPD Film Festival: A Misconduct Triology

It's been a bad week for the NYPD, as a series of videos have surfaced depicting New York's Finest engaged in various acts of blatant misconduct, ranging from random, entirely gratuitous violence, to thievery. Much of this conduct is egregious and impossible to explain away, but we'll see how the PBA spins it. And so, without further ado . . .

Video No. 1
On August 29, Kahreem Tribble was spotted by police officers suspiciously peering into a car window (or so the story goes in the New York Post). When officers David Afanador and Tyrane Isaac approached him, he started to flee. They ran after him. Then he stopped running. He put his hands up. He surrendered. And then they beat him up, striking him repeatedly. According to his attorney Amy Rameau, his teeth were knocked out. Tribble did plead guilty the next day to disorderly conduct (which in New York is a violation, not a crime). However, to my eye, the beating was entirely indefensible.

By the way, the Kings County District Attorney has a newly formed division that investigates civil rights abuses. Local newspapers suggest that they are looking into this. We shall see.

Video No. 2
Shortly after midnight on September 16, Lamard Joye, who was with his sister, among other people, confronted uniformed officers who were roughing up a young man. The officer turns on Joye, reaches into Joye's pocket, and grabbed a wad of cash. When Joye yells at the officer to give him back his money, the officer pepper sprays him. When his sister, Lateefah Joye, complained and attempted to read the officer's badge, he pepper sprayed her as well.

Joye's attorney, Robert Marinelli, brought to the matter to the KCDA's new civil rights unit, providing another important test case for DA Ken Thompson's ambitious new unit. (Disclosure: I know Rob personally and we are co-counsel on existing and unfiled matters).

Video No. 3
In our final installment, our video from June 4 of this year picks up with the teenage Marcel Hamer lying in the street. A police officer is holding his arm and standing on his stomach. As the Daily News notes, the officer asks, "You wanna get fucked up?" An obviously scared and distressed Hamer responds by saying, "Mister, it was just a cigarette, sir. It was just a cigarette."

Moments later the officer strikes. The knockout blow isn't clearly caught on video, but as the News agrees, the sound of a punch landing is audible.

Legally speaking, the question is whether, based on the facts known to the officer at the time, the amount and type of force used was reasonably necessary. It's not clear what led up to this interaction, but as with the above videos, there seems to be no justification for the force used.

The Daily News reported elsewhere that NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton recently shook up some of his senior officers at a meeting when he played a video montage titled "What Would You Do?" that contained clips of cops kicking and beating people seemingly without justification. According to the News, he swore that he would kick out of the NYPD officer "who’s so callous, so brutal, so corrupt, that they feel comfortable engaging in those acts of brutality, acts of corruption without fear."

Strong words. Do they mean anything?

No comments:

Post a Comment