According to a study made public on Monday by a civilian review commission, nearly 150 New York City police officers engaged in misbehavior, including excessive force, when responding to the 2020 demonstrations against the murder of George Floyd.
The city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, or CCRB, also discovered that many police officers the department disciplined received less severe punishment than the panel had recommended, and in some cases, officers who had been found to have engaged in misconduct received no disciplinary action at all.
Because policemen could not be identified, investigations into more than 600 complaints concerning police behavior during the protests had to be concluded.
The 590-page report claims that, in many cases, this was due to police officers purposefully donning mourning bands over their badges, refusing to give their names, or the agency failing to keep track of where policemen were stationed.
During the protests, the board received 321 complaints deemed to fall under its purview, and 226 were given a thorough investigation.
The document, for instance, details police conduct at a protest in Brooklyn on May 30, 2020, which led to multiple complaints.
Protesters were knocked to the ground as a police car was driven into the crowd by an officer. Another officer pepper-blasted a protester in the face after removing his coronavirus-protective mask. According to the investigation, officers tackled demonstrators on the Brooklyn Bridge that day and struck them in the head with batons.
The panel found 269 complaints of wrongdoing against 146 officers to be true, including 140 claims of use of excessive force and 72 claims of abuse of power, including refusals on the part of police to give their identities or block badges.
Thirty-four complaints of using batons illegally on victims and 28 allegations of using pepper spray unlawfully were upheld.
Police misconduct increased due to protests against police brutality, according to the review board’s chair, Arva Rice.
There are suggestions for improvement in the document.
The NYPD stated that it disagrees with many of the board’s assertions. In a statement, the department claimed that many, if not all, of the review board’s recommendations had already been carried out in response to its analysis and suggestions from other agencies.
According to the department, “a significant element lacking from this report is any admission that officers were doing their absolute best to defend the city and its residents under frequently persistent, dangerous situations.”
The organization added that only 15% of the 1,800 allegations in the 226 complaints the board investigated were supported.
Only a small portion of the more than 20,000 policemen on duty each day during the scandal was found to have engaged in misbehavior.
Two hundred fifty of the cops who suffered injuries during the protests, according to the NYPD, were hospitalized.
The Police Benevolent Association’s president, Patrick Lynch, also voiced criticism.
He issued a statement in which he said that “once again, the anti-cop radicals at CCRB are trying to lay the blame on specific police officers for management failings and the mayhem generated by violent agitators.” “We are still waiting for ‘accountability’ for the city leaders who sent us out without a strategy and without assistance, as well as for the criminals who hurt more than 400 of our brothers and sisters,” the statement reads.
The board suggested that 89 policemen be given charges and other forms of punishment. Of those cases, three police entered guilty pleas to resolve the matter, four officers forfeited vacation time, and five retired or resigned before facing disciplinary action.
It offered several recommendations, one of which was that all officers receive current instruction in crowd management techniques.
The board further stated that police should not obstruct journalists, that officers’ names and shield numbers should always be visible, and that the department should evaluate how it employs various strategies and equipment during protests.
According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the report demonstrates how officers reacted violently.
The deputy legal director of the New York ACLU, Molly Biklen, said in a statement, “This report gives the public a new window into the scope of officer misbehavior, essential access to troves of internal information and, in the end, glaring evidence of the NYPD’s refusal to hold officers accountable.”