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Updated: October 18, 2021, 9:00 PM

NYPD watchdog: Discipline 65 NYPD cops for summer 2020 protest actions

By Anthony M. DeStefano

A watchdog agency recommended Monday that 65 NYPD officers face discipline for alleged misconduct during New York City demonstrations after George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis cop.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board, the city agency with the power to investigate and recommend — along with the NYPD — disciplinary proceedings against officers, said in a statement that of those 65 officers with substantiated complaints of misconduct from the summer of 2020 demonstrations, 37 should have departmental trials. The agency recommended less serious command discipline for the remaining 28. The agency’s administrative prosecution unit would handle the cases in the NYPD department trial room presided over by a deputy commissioner for trials.

The cases recommended for trials involve many patrol officers, some captains and lieutenants, as well as one deputy inspector and an inspector, both of whom are accused of abuse of authority. More than two dozen cases involve complaints of excessive force. The accused cops face potential penalties ranging from retraining and loss of vacation days, to, in severe cases, termination.

"The [trial unit] is prepared to move forward with trials for the 37 officers who have received the highest level of disciplinary recommendations as soon [as] the NYPD serves the officers," said CCRB Chairman Fred Davie in a statement.

Both the CCRB and NYPD can separately bring charges against cops in the trial room, often with multiple offenses being charged against officers. An analysis by Newsday of NYPD trial decisions from early 2016 to early 2021 showed that the agencies often get different results. 

The CCRB wins at least one guilty finding against an individual officer in just over 50% of its cases after trials. The NYPD department advocate’s office, which also brings cases, wins at least one guilty finding in over 90% of its trials.

Earlier this year, Chief Matthew Pontillo told reporters that one reason the CCRB has a lower conviction rate in the trial room is that civilian complainants against the cops refuse to testify because of their pending civil suits against the NYPD. A CCRB spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Davie said the CCRB should have "final authority in disciplinary cases" because verdicts in trials presided over by an NYPD judge "can be reversed by the NYPD commissioner at any point. This is a hindrance to properly addressing police misconduct."

The CCRB emphasized that out of 313 complaints stemming from the city protests, including many by and in support of the group, Black Lives Matter, 34% couldn’t be investigated further because the cops could not be identified, sometimes because their badges were covered.

NYPD officials didn’t comment Monday. Patrick Lynch, Police Benevolent Association president, in a statement, accused the CCRB of "carrying political water for Mayor de Blasio" and other officials who the labor leader said sent cops out with "no plan, no strategy and no support into a dangerous environment created by politician’s irresponsible rhetoric."

Lynch noted that dozens of cops were hurt in the protests and violence of summer 2020.