Bronx Drivers Suing NYPD for Bogus DWI Arrests

A New York Police Department (NYPD) detective is facing allegations that he wrongfully accused individuals of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in a bid to inflate his overtime pay.

An analysis of DWI arrests by the Legal Aid Society shows that a significant number of DWI arrests made by Detective Darryl Schwartz have ended without a conviction. Schwartz was named in a lawsuit against New York City by a driver who claimed the detective falsely accused him of driving while intoxicated, The New York Daily News reported.

The veteran Bronx officer is also named in two pending lawsuits. A third person is planning to sue the city because of Schwartz as well.

Legal Aid Society attorney Willoughby Jenett analyzed numerous DWI cases involving the organization’s clients where Schwartz conducted the arrests. Almost half of the adjudicated cases resulted in acquittals or dismissals, Gothamist reported.

“I spoke to other attorneys who represented people who had been arrested by Detective Schwartz and all of them were either not driving or not drunk or some combination of those,” Jenett said. “[This] is something you often hear from people, but the rate of dismissal or other ways these cases went away was very high.”

Schwartz, 46, reportedly made over $173,000 in overtime from the 2015 to 2018 fiscal years, Legal Aid Society found. That represents more overtime earnings than 97 percent of NYPD officers during the same time period, which is when Schwartz made the DWI arrests.

Attorney Andrew Laufer told The Daily News that Schwartz arrested then-25-year-old Manuel Gil in December 2015 after accusing him of drunk driving. Schwartz maintained the claim despite Gil registering a 0.0 Breathalyzer reading several times.

Court documents cited by The New York Daily News said Schwartz told Gil he was being arrested “because you’re an idiot.” The officer also claimed Gil was intentionally not blowing into the Breathalyzer’s tube. The charges against Gil were eventually dropped. Gil sued the city earlier this year and settled the suit for $85,000.

“It was a completely trumped-up charge against him,” Laufer, Gil’s attorney, said. “In my opinion, it seems like this was an overtime scam. He’s done this a number of times.”

Schwartz, who joined the NYPD in 2003, was placed on desk duty for an unrelated infraction in March. He was transferred from the 46th Precinct to the Criminal Justice Bureau and placed on modified duty without a gun or shield after he and another officer left a loaded gun in their patrol car.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment on the lawsuits against Schwartz.

Schwartz has a lengthy history of misconduct while at the NYPD. According to his Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) file, Schwartz was found to have filed improper paperwork for drug seizures while working at the Manhattan North Narcotics Bureau in 2009 and 2010.

Two years later, in 2012, Schwartz lost three vacation days after he “failed and neglected to properly perform assignments regarding his assigned investigations,” Gothamist reported. The officer also failed to notify his superiors that year when state police were called to his Westchester home following a fight with his girlfriend.

The IAB file said that in 2013, Schwartz was transferred to the Bronx’s 46th Precinct due to “poor performance and discipline.” That same year, he accidentally fired his service weapon and was required to attend retraining.

The infractions continued in 2015, when the Civilian Complaint Review Board upheld claims that he abused his authority and wrongfully frisked two individuals the previous year. Schwartz also failed to file a stop and frisk form for the two encounters.

Schwartz was found to be at fault following an on-duty crash in 2016 but was never disciplined. He later lost 10 vacation days when he failed to create a property voucher for a prisoner’s wallet that reportedly contained $1,300. The wallet was then lost, according to Gothamist. In 2017, Schwartz did not appear in court for the fourth time. In August of that year, he was placed on IAB monitoring due to his “history with the [department].”

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.