Brooklyn DA’s List of Cops with Suspect Credibility Exposes Ugly Culture of Lying
|Nov 7, 2019|
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office in New York released a list of New York Police Department officers with alleged credibility issues. Seven of the officers that made the list have been identified as “agency adverse credibility findings,” which means Brooklyn’s DA wouldn’t call them to testify in court as the sole witness.
What You Should Know
Thelist was released by Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez’s office following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from WNYC and Gothamist. The document lists 54 NYPD officers whose testimonies have been questioned by a judge on credibility.
In a statement, Gonzalez stated that he released the names to enhance transparency between the department and communities as a part of his Justice 2020 action plan.
“Officers names, including those who are barred from releasing to the public, are regularly disclosed to defense lawyers and the courts in keeping with our legally-mandated obligations. We have also publicly released the identities of police officers my office has deemed not credible and that we would never use as the sole witness in a case,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
“This is not an indictment of the thousands of dedicated officers who work in our communities and with us in partnership every day to keep the people of Brooklyn safe. That said, we take police credibility very seriously because inaccurate statements by members of law enforcement strike at the heart of our criminal justice system, cause significant harm to the public trust and may lead to wrongful convictions,” the statement continued.
Quick Facts About the List
In the list, it classifies 47 officers as “judicial adverse credibility findings” in 53 cases dating back to 2008. This means that a judge found their testimonies during trial to not be credible.
One of the seven officers, Leonard Clarke, has been accused of false arrest or illegal search multiple times. In 2013, a man who was illegally stopped and frisked by Clarke won a $14,000 settlement, The New York Daily News previously reported.
Officer Richard Danese was accused of assaulting a 14-year-old Staten Island boy back in 2007 by dumping him in a Staten Island marsh without his shoes or shirt on for throwing eggs at cars on Halloween, The New York Times reported. Danese did not serve any jail time.
Officer Greg Gingo was one of the officers who cost the city over $1 million in a settlement after he and four other officers charged a man with DWI despite a breathalyzer revealing no presence of alcohol, according to a previous report from The New York Daily News.
Another officer on the list, Juan Moreno, was one of the three officers who entered a Brooklyn apartment in March 2013 and questioned those inside without a warrant, according to a previous report from The Times.
Why It Matters
A day before the list was released, New York City voters passed a ballot measure that will increase a government watchdog’s oversight of the NYPD. The recently passed amendment will give the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) the authority to investigate police it suspects have lied to it regarding misconduct or police brutality, The New York Post reported.
Mark Winston Griffith, the executive director of the Brooklyn Movement Center, told The North Star that if officers are going to continue to interact with the public, there needs to be accountability with the public.
“Right now we see very little of that because of the power that the police departments and the unions have, and the way they use their power to shroud the behavior of the individual officers in secrecy,” Winston Griffith said. “They don’t allow us to know the ways they’ve interacted inappropriately and sometimes against the law.”
Winston Griffith, who also works on the Communities for United Police Reform steering committee, mentioned the Eric Garner case and how long it took the NYPD to fire former NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who held Garner down in a chokehold which resulted in Garner’s death. Garner died in July of 2014, but Pantaleo wasn’t fired until this past August, five years later. Winston Griffith told TNS there is a problem of officers lying to the public.
“It took Pantaleo to put someone in a chokehold and kill him in order for him to be disciplined while other officers who were involved in the killing of Eric Garner who had lied in many instances did not suffer any consequences,” Winston Griffith said.
He said the list shows how much of a lying culture there is in the department.
“If it carries an active list, a big question is why aren’t all of these people who have credibility problems, why are they not being disciplined?” he told TNS.
What Can Be Done
There are more cities ensuring that police departments are transparent. In 2018, the California legislature passed The Right to Know Act, which gives the public the right to view certain police records relating to misconduct and use of force. Winston Griffith said the public needs to continue to call out police for being untruthful.
“It’s a public safety issue in many ways and it’s a public trust issue,” said Winston Griffith. “We just have to keep up the pressure.”
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About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.