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NYPD: New Use-of-Force Guidelines Issued after Highly Critical Report Released

This morning, the NYPD Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report that found police leadership ignored over 35 percent of sustained excessive force complaints against its officers. This afternoon, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton announced new use-of-force guidelines to improve reporting and responsiveness. The guidelines will require NYPD officers to document and grade each use of force occurrence on duty. They also require officers to intervene if they witness a fellow officer using excessive force.

According to BuzzFeed:

The scathing [OIG] report, the first of its kind prepared by the new regulatory agency, was based on an analysis of 179 cases from 2010 through 2014 in which the Civilian Complaint and Review Board, the independent agency that investigates police misconduct, found that officers had used excessive force. The report also examined internal NYPD records for over 100 of those cases.

Among the Inspector General’s most troubling findings was the fact that top department brass declined to discipline a large portion of officers who were found to have used excess force. In 36% of the cases where independent investigators found evidence of misconduct, the police commissioner, who ultimately decides the fate of police officers accused of wrongdoing, “refused to impose any form of discipline.”

In spite of these revelations, NYPD’s largest union objected to the new reporting requirements. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolence Association, told BuzzFeed, “more paperwork coupled with a serious shortage of police officers and the continual second-guessing of their actions is a formula for disaster.”

The OIG also found the percentage of sustained force complaints that garnered no discipline is down considerably under Commissioner Bratton’s leadership. This decline indicates that Bratton’s NYPD is serious about addressing these entrenched problems of responsiveness, union objections notwithstanding.

As the nation’s largest police department, the NYPD often sets the operational standard (for good or ill) for many of law enforcement agencies across the country. Police departments and reformers alike will be watching closely as the NYPD implements these new guidelines.

You can read today’s OIG report here. You can read more about the new guidelines from yesterday’s preview in the New York Times. And you can read my testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the widespread lack of transparency regarding the use of force and officer discipline here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 09-19-15 to 09-21-15

Here are the eight reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, September 19 through Monday, September 21, 2015:

  • Johnston County, North Carolina: A deputy was arrested for DWI in Durham. He has been fired.
  • Saco, Maine: An officer was arrested for OUI after a traffic
  • Update: Isabella County, Michigan: A deputy pled no contest to charges stemming from attempts to extort sexual favors from female suspects.
  • East St. Louis, Illinois: An officer is under investigation for drug possession. Another is under investigation for sexual assault in a separate incident.
  • Update: Edgewood, Indiana: A now-former officer was sentenced to 11 yrs, three of which were suspended, for reckless homicide. He crashed under the influence.
  • Update: Troy, New York: A now-former officer who tipped-off drug dealer sentenced to 2 yrs probation, a fine and community service.
  • Mount Joy, Pennsylvania: An officer was charged with theft for taking $7,500 of pay he was not entitled to.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: An officer was arrested for OWI while off duty.

Worst of the Month — August 2015

So for August it was the case of Officer Kevin McGowan.  According to news reports, Patrick D’Labik, age 18, admits to running away from the police.  He said he ran because he had some marijuana in his pocket and did not want to go to jail.  Officer McGowan caught up with D’Labik in a convenience store and the encounter was caught on the store’s surveillance tape (video at the link above).  D’Labik has his hands raised in surrender and is in the process of getting on the floor when McGowan kicks him in the face.

When police commanders saw the surveillance tape, they concluded it was unnecessary, excessive force and fired McGowan.

Wait, McGowan is now back on patrol because the city’s Civil Service Board reinstated him.

Fairfax Officer Charged w/Murder

From the Washington Post:

A former Fairfax County police officer was charged with second-degree murder Monday, nearly two years after he shot and killed an unarmed Springfield man who stood with his hands raised in the doorway of his home.

The indictment of Adam D. Torres in the killing of 46-year-old John Geer, who had a holstered gun at his feet when he was shot, marks the first time in the 75-year history of the Fairfax County Police Department that an officer has faced criminal prosecution in connection with an on-duty shooting.

Geer’s slaying in August 2013 sparked protests, shook trust in law enforcement and prompted county officials to begin a broad review of the department’s use of force and the way it communicates with the public about police shootings.

Reporter Tom Jackman with the Post has been following this case from the beginning and has done excellent work.

Update on the John Geer Case

Today, former Fairfax County, Virginia officer Adam Torres was indicted for second-degree murder for fatally shooting John Geer.

According to the statements of several other law enforcement officials at the scene, Geer was unarmed at the time of the shooting and had his hands up. However, that information took 17 months to be released and Torres wasn’t terminated until last month, just shy of the two-year anniversary of Geer’s death. The Washington Post and others repeatedly excoriated the Fairfax County government for the unexplained delays and secrecy surrounding the case.

According to today’s Post story, Torres is the first officer from Fairfax County to be criminally charged for a shooting on duty in the department’s 75-year history.

You can read our past coverage of the Geer case here. As always, we will be tracking this and other cases here, on our Facebook page, and our Twitter feed.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-11-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, August 11, 2015:

  • Omaha, Nebraska: An officer was arrested for domestic assault.
  • Update: New Orleans, Louisiana (First reported 01-14-15): An officer has been arrested a second time for domestic violence. His first arrest was in January.
  • Lawton, Oklahoma: An officer was arrested for driving to work drunk.
  • Update: Carrollton, Kentucky (First reported 06-02-15): The police chief and another officer were indicted on kidnapping and obstruction charges for putting a mentally ill inmate on a bus to Florida with a one-way ticket.
  • Update: Put-in-Bay, Ohio (First reported 03-03-15): The chief was fired by city council amid several allegations of misconduct in office.
  • Update: Hillview, Kentucky (First reported 10-02-13): The now-former chief was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $5,000 for lying to FBI about a meth lab.
  • Update: Huntsville, Alabama (First reported 11-20-12): An officer was found guilty of using excessive force against a suspect and attempting to cover it up.
  • Decatur, Alabama: An officer was cleared after an internal investigation. He fired a gun at an unarmed man while serving an arrest warrant in the man’s home.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii: An officer was charged with assault for an incident caught on camera.

2015 Police Shootings

Yesterday, on the anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the Washington Post ran a lengthy article about its tracking of fatal police shootings this year.


So far this year, 24 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police – one every nine days, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings. During a single two-week period in April, three unarmed black men were shot and killed. All three shootings were either captured on video or, in one case, broadcast live on local TV.

Those 24 cases constitute a surprisingly small fraction of the 585 people shot and killed by police through Friday evening, according to The Post database. Most of those killed were white or Hispanic, and the vast majority of victims of all races were armed.

However, black men accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population. The Post’s analysis shows that black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed.

Check out the Cato event from last year, Lessons from Ferguson.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-06-15

Here are the nine reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, August 6, 2015:

  • Boscawen, New Hampshire: A now-former officer has been arrested for sexual assault of a minor. He is now police chief in Canterbury.
  • Konawa, Oklahoma: Two officers were arrested for firing weapons from a moving vehicle.
  • Glen Rock, New Jersey: A detective assigned to child protection was accused of sending nude pics to young girls under his watch.
  • Checotah, Oklahoma: A K9 officer was arrested for stealing
  • Huntington Park and South Gate, California: Four officers were arrested for abusing 13 children at a police-run boot camp.
  • Wichita, Kansas: The City settled a lawsuit for $325,000. A man claimed he was beaten by officer after parking in a handicapped spot.
  • Rohnert Park, California: An officer pulled his gun on a man who was recording him. The department is investigating the incident.
  • Seattle, Washington: An officer was fired for dishonesty and false reporting. The 31-year-veteran had a documented history of misconduct and dishonesty.
  • Athens-Clarke County, Georgia: A deputy was fired and charged with assault for actions during an arrest of a UGA student.

Worst of the Month — July

For July, it was the case from Akron, Ohio.  Officer Eric Paull worked as a sergeant for the Akron Police Department.  He also taught a course on criminal justice at the University of Akron.  One of his students was a single mom.  According to news reports, the woman (name withheld) says they started a romantic relationship.  But after a year or so, that relationship turned ugly and violent.  After he beat her up on a Thanksgiving holiday, Paull told her that he was legally “untouchable.”

She believed him–so she did not file a complaint right away.  Instead, she just tried to avoid him.  But Paull stalked her and her boyfriends, using police databases to discover addresses, phone numbers, and vehicle information.  Paull would also text pictures of himself holding his gun.  There were threats to kill the woman and her boyfriend.  The woman did lodge complaints with the police and would later obtain a protective order, but the police department seemed indifferent.  Paull would not stop.

Finally, after months of harassment, Paull was charged with stalking, aggravated menacing, felonious assault, and burglary, among other charges.  His trial is expected to begin in a few weeks.

Paul Hlynsky, the police union leader, says he will try to have Paull back on the police force if he can avoid a felony conviction.