Thirty-six NYPD cops who assaulted, wrongly pepper-sprayed or committed other acts of misconduct against George Floyd protesters faced zero discipline, a new report says.
Dozens more officers believed to be guilty of misconduct during the 2020 riots were let off the hook, too — including cops who flashed white supremacy signs or were part of the infamous violent breakup of demonstrators in Mott Haven — because investigators couldn’t identify them, according to the report released Monday by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
The voluminous final report by the city’s police oversight agency on the NYPD’s controversial response to Floyd protesters provides the most detailed account yet of the department’s “chaotic” handling of the demonstrations, when officers were deployed on the fly, often with no specific direction and another cop’s equipment or none at all.
The board received 2,000-plus allegations of misconduct by more than 500 officers as part of 321 complaints from Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police-brutality death of Floyd in May 2020 in Minneapolis.
The CCRB found 146 NYPD officers committed some form of police misconduct, ranging from discourtesy to assault and unnecessary use of pepper spray or a Taser.
The board recommended 89 officers face an internal trial that could cost them 10 vacation days. Another 26 cops should face charges that might result in a loss of up to 10 days, while 31 other officers would be on the line for a five-day penalty, the CCRB said.
As of February, the NYPD has disposed of 78 of those 146 cases, with 30 current cops receiving no discipline and six officers retiring before they faced potential punishment.
More than 600 allegations had to be closed because the board couldn’t identify the 59 cops involved in them, either because of the lack of deployment records showing they were at the scene, or the “pervasive and purposeful actions taken by officers to conceal their identities, such as wearing mourning bands over their shields or refusing to provide their name and shield to civilian,” the report said.
“The CCRB has seen unprecedented challenges in investigating these complaints,” the board said.
“In most instances, officers were deployed without tracking their whereabouts, which led to difficulty in determining the pool of officers from which subject officers could be identified.”
The board did not ask for charges against former Chief of the Department Terence Monahan, who retired before any raps could be filed against him. He helped supervise the forceful breakup of the Mott Haven protests for a curfew that Human Rights Watch said violated “international human rights.”
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, as allowed under agency guidelines, interjected in nine of the cases of police misconduct, stopping them before they went to trial in front of an NYPD judge — and issued no discipline.
In one of the cases, Inspector Steven Ortiz arrested a deliveryman on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in June 2020 for violating curfew despite having proof of being an essential worker, the report says.
The “troubling” incident was caught on camera and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio decried it as “unacceptable.”
The CCRB recommended the police inspector lose at least 10 vacation days — but Sewell disagreed.
“[I]t would be detrimental to the Police Department’s disciplinary process to allow the Civilian Complaint Review Board to continue its prosecution of Inspector Ortiz,” wrote the commanding officer in the commish’s office, Inspector Lourdes Soto.
“Therefore, the Police Commissioner affirms [the] decision to exercise Provision Two of the Memorandum of Understanding and will direct that Inspector Steven Ortiz receive no disciplinary action in connection with this matter.”
In another case, the top cop let Sgt. Daniel Nicoletti off the hook for hitting a protester with a baton June 2 in Lower Manhattan and then lying about it despite it being caught on body-worn camera and cellphone footage, according to records.
“After careful consideration, the Police Commissioner has determined that the Police Department will retain jurisdiction over this matter and not pursue Charges/Specifications against Sergeant Nicoletti and take no disciplinary matter against him,” Sotor wrote to the board.
Sewell also interjected in four other cases, penalizing two officers 10 days’ vacation, docked another five vacation days and a final three vacation days.
Former Police Commissioner Dermot Shea similarly intervened in some cases just before leaving his post, breaking with the CCRB over discipline for nine cops, including a deputy chief.
“While acknowledging the effort the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) put into its investigation, the NYPD respectfully objects to much of the CCRB’s characterization of its response to the 2020 protests,” a Police Department spokesman said in a statement Monday.
“After two-and-a-half years removed from these protests, many, if not all, of the CCRB’s recommendations to amend certain NYPD policies or training in its report have already been enhanced by the Department.”
The president of the city’s largest police union slammed the report as “anti-cop activists at CCRB” putting the blame on “individual police officers for management failures and the chaos created by violent agitators.”
“We are still awaiting ‘accountability’ for the city leaders who sent us out with no plan and no support, and for the criminals who injured more than 400 of our brothers and sisters,” said Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.